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.