EVIAN: Central defender Benedikt Howedes is the latest fitness concern for Germany ahead of their Euro 2016 semi-final against hosts France in Marseille on Thursday.
The 28-year-old and captain Bastian Schweinsteiger both missed the team training session and worked on their own as “a precaution,” according to a German federation spokesman.
Howedes’s recovery from a minor knee problem is important because centre-back partner Mats Hummels is ruled out of the tie through suspension having collected his second yellow card of the tournament in the dramatic shootout victory over Italy.
Schweinsteiger is hoping to be fit to take the place from the start of hamstring injury victim Sami Khedira who was injured early in the Italy game.
Liverpool midfielder Emre Can orBorussia Dortmund Julian Weigl are other options for coach Joachim Low if the Manchester United veteran fails a late fitness test. Khedira is expected to be fit should Germany reach Sunday’s final in the Stade de France.
Thomas Muller, who could be switched to a central striking role now that injury has ruled out Mario Gomez, was in confident mood after training, aware that Germany beat France 1-0 in the quarter-finals in Brazil in the 2014 World Cup.
Muller said: “We know France have many good players, but Iceland didn’t honestly look that good at the back so if we defend well as a team, we will not let these players get into positions to show their class.
“We’re respectful, but I’m optimistic we’ll find a solution even if we’ve got some players missing out, which is bitter. This happens in football, there are always injuries and suspensions for big games but you’ve got to compensate as a team.
“I said before the tournament that I’ve never seen so much depth of quality in our team as we have now so I’m sure we can compensate.”
Although the draw has been kind to the hosts, Muller still says they deserve to be in the semi-finals “because they’ve got great players”, although they can now expect the biggest test of their campaign so far.
“France have not got here by luck,” he said. “But they are now under a bit of pressure too as the hosts, and they know they’re facing a strong Germany side.
“We were both being mentioned as favourites before the tournament and there aren’t many bigger games than this one.”