Berlin: Germany coach Joachim Loew knew he would have to inject fresh legs into his squad to replace veterans after the World Cup, but a raft of injuries means he has had to delve deep into his playing stocks for their Euro 2016 qualifier against Poland.
With former captain Philipp Lahm, Per Mertesacker and Miroslav Klose ending their international careers after the tournament in Brazil in July, Loew was already forced to replace several first choice players.
Against Poland on Saturday, however, the coach will also be without more than half a dozen key players including new captain Bastian Schweinsteiger, Marco Reus, Benedikt Hoewedes, Mesut Ozil, Sami Khedira, Marcel Schmelzer and Mario Gomez.
To fill the void, Loew has recalled Borussia Moenchengladbach forward Max Kruse, who did not make the World Cup squad, and in-form Bayer Leverkusen winger Karim Bellarabi, courted also by Morocco.
"We had him on our list for some time," said Loew of the 24-year-old Bellarabi. "In the games against Poland and Ireland we have the chance to increase our lead at the top and move away from the competition. "
Germany, top of the group following their opening win over Scotland, play Ireland in Gelsenkirchen next week.
"Karim Bellarabi has earned his chance after several outstanding performance for his club. He is very strong in one-on-one situations and an outstanding alternative for our attack," Loew said.
Kruse has been equally impressive since the start of the season and will fill the void in attack left by the absence of Klose and Gomez, with Mario Goetze also an option up front against the Poles.
Loew will need all the firepower he can get from Kruse and Bellarabi, who have each netted three times in the league.
Especially with winger Andre Schuerrle missing training this week with an injury and Lukas Podolski spending most of the season so far on the Arsenal bench.
Schalke 04`s Julian Draxler, who was nursing a fever this weeek, was also doubtful for the game but has joined up with the team and could be ruled fit for Saturday.
The coach is also aware, however, that his team will have to defend as well as score goals against their eastern neighbours, with Poland striker Robert Lewandowski in fine form.
The Bayern Munich forward, last season`s top scorer in the Bundesliga, has already netted four times in seven league games, including twice last week in their win over Hanover 96.
"He is exceptional. Few players can control the ball like he does under pressure," said Loew. "He is ice cold in front of goal and overall a complete player."