Germany names squad for friendly against Italy
Germany coach Joachim Loew left long-injured Michael Ballack out of his squad to face Italy next week in Dortmund.
The only newcomer in Germany's squad is 22-year-old midfielder Sven Bender, who will play alongside four of his teammates from Bundesliga leader Borussia Dortmund.
''Dortmund is playing excellent football,'' Loew said. ''Bender has impressed me deeply. He is outstanding in winning the ball.''
Bayern Munich defender Philipp Lahm will act as captain as Loew stuck with his previously announced decision to leave out Ballack.
Among the returning World Cup players are Mesut Oezil, Arne Friedrich and Miroslav Klose, and Schalke goalkeeper Manuel Neuer.
Loew said he was happy to see Bayern Munich striker Mario Gomez find his form. The 25-year-old Gomez is currently the Bundesliga's joint top scorer with 15 goals.
Miroslav Klose retains his place up front, despite his limited playing time for Bayern this season.
''It remains the case that Miroslav always performed for us when it mattered,'' Loew said. ''I'm happy to have two central strikers.''
Germany hasn't beaten Italy in 16 years. In Wednesday's game, the two sides return to the Dortmund stadium where Italy beat Germany in the 2006 World Cup semifinals before winning the title.
''It's a very interesting game,'' the German coach said. ''The Italians play with intelligence and experience, and they have players who have already achieved an unbelievable amount.''
Goalkeepers: Rene Adler (Bayer Leverkusen), Manuel Neuer (Schalke)
Defenders: Dennis Aogo (Hamburger SV), Holger Badstuber (Bayern Munich), Jerome Boateng (Manchester City), Arne Friedrich (Wolfsburg), Mats Hummels (Borussia Dortmund), Philipp Lahm (Bayern Munich), Per Mertesacker (Werder Bremen), Marcel Schmelzer (Borussia Dortmund), Heiko Westermann (Hamburger SV)
Midfielders: Sven Bender (Borussia Dortmund), Mario Goetze (Borussia Dortmund), Kevin Grosskreutz (Borussia Dortmund), Sami Khedira (Real Madrid), Mesut Oezil (Real Madrid), Bastian Schweinsteiger (Bayern Munich), Christian Traesch (Stuttgart)
Forwards: Mario Gomez (Bayern Munich), Miroslav Klose (Bayern Munich), Thomas Mueller (Bayern Munich), Lukas Podolski (Cologne)