Germany captain and keeper decisions made - Loew

Cologne: Germany coach Joachim Loew has decided on his captain for the World Cup AND his first- choice goalkeeper but will first inform the players before making his choices public, he said on Sunday.

Germany captain Michael Ballack sustained an ankle injury in Chelsea`s FA Cup final win over Portsmouth last week and will miss the June 11-July 11 World Cup in South Africa, joining injured goalkeeper Rene Adler on the sidelines.

Adler was replaced by Bayern Munich`s Hans-Joerg Butt, who was initially seen as third choice, but a strong season has put the 35-year-old in contention for a starting spot.

"We are clear about our decision regarding the team captain and the goalkeeper questions," Loew told reporters from the team`s training camp in Italy.

Striker Miroslav Klose, midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger and defender Philipp Lahm are potential captains.

Goalkeepers Tim Wiese of Werder Bremen, Schalke 04`s Manuel Neuer and Butt are the contenders for the starting spot with Neuer the favourite.

Butt, however, has played a superb season with Bayern as they won the domestic league and Cup double and were runners-up in the Champions League.

Loew said he would first inform all his players before announcing his decision, probably on Thursday.

Bayern Munich`s seven international players, who lost in the Champions League final to Inter Milan 2-0 on Saturday, will join the squad on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Loew must drop three players from his provisional 26-man squad before finalising the squad by June 1.

"This is an extremely difficult situation because I have seen that all players work unbelievably hard, they are eager to learn, are constantly alert and they are investing everything they have in training," Loew said.

"At the moment I must be honest. I cannot decide who will go home," he said.

Germany face Ghana, Australia and Serbia in the tournament`s group stage.

Bureau Report


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