Germany without key stars for Cameroon clash
Moenchengladbach: Germany host Cameroon in their penultimate World Cup warm-up on Sunday with head coach Joachim Loew missing several first-choice stars.
Germany captain Phlipp Lahm, who is nursing an ankle knock, and goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, who has a shoulder injury, both sit out the Moenchengladbach match.
The Bayern Munich pair have both only been able to take a limited part in the pre-World Cup camp since picking up knocks in the German Cup final a fortnight ago.
"We don`t want to take any risks with Philipp Lahm and Manuel Neuer will also not play," said Loew.
"Marcel Schmelzer and Bastian Schweinsteiger should be available and I`ll try and make the most of the substitutions.
"It`s an important opportunity for me to learn a few things, both tactically and also about individual players."
The 28-year-old Neuer is expected to play in Germany`s final friendly against Armenia in Mainz next Friday before the squad flies to Brazil.
In Neuer`s place against Cameroon, Borussia Dortmund shot-stopper Roman Weidenfeller, 33, will deputise to make only his second international appearance.
His Dortmund team-mate Erik Durm is set to make his debut at left-back.Real Madrid`s Sami Khedira should feature at some stage despite suffering an injury scare in training.
The defensive midfielder has spent the last six months on the sidelines after tearing his cruciate knee ligament.
He took a knock to the same knee in the senior side`s 8-0 win over Germany`s Under-20 side in a practice match at their north Italian training camp on Thursday.
"You can`t say it was an injury but I took a blow to the knee, which was a bit unfortunate," said Khedira.
"It hurt for a brief period, which is normal, but I was able to play on. I`m fine."
Both Loew and his Cameroon counterpart Volker Finke must submit their final 23-man World Cup squads by Monday.
Cameroon`s World Cup preparations took a knock on Thursday when they lost 2-1 to Paraguay in a pre-tournament friendly in Kufstein, Austria.
The Germans need a confidence-boosting win ahead of their opening World Cup match against Portugal on June 16 after their goalless draw against Poland on May 13.
Ex-Cologne coach Finke will be looking to get one over his countrymen with a squad which includes Barcelona`s Alex Song and Chelsea`s Samuel Eto`o.
The Africans face a tough time in a Group A which includes favourites Brazil, Croatia and Mexico as they bid to qualify for the knockout stages for the first time since 1990.
The Germans` 10-day training camp in south Tirol has attracted an unusually high amount of negative headlines.
Defender Kevin Grosskreutz arrived under a cloud after being fined a reported 60,000 euros ($81,600) by his club Borussia Dortmund for urinating in a Berlin hotel after the German Cup final.
Loew was left red-faced after it emerged last Tuesday he has been banned for six months after repeated driving infringements.
The same day, two individuals were seriously injured following a car crash during a sponsors` event on the grounds of the team`s hotel.
Centre-back Benedikt Hoewedes was a passenger in the car which hit the pair.
Putting a positive spin on a week of negative headlines, Loew says the adversity has pulled the squad together.
"Even though a shadow hangs over our time here because of the accident, we have felt really good here," said Loew.
"The team has come closer and closer together in the last few days.
"The team spirit is very good and beyond comparison to 2012."
Germany`s Euro 2012 campaign was blighted by rumours of discontent in the camp with some stars left on the bench as they exited to Italy in the semi-finals.