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back National team | 17.11.2013 22:34:24

Löw to try new midfield in London

  • "Anybody want to play number six?" may have been the call from Joachim Löw during a training session in Barnet on Sunday
  • Dortmund's Roman Weidenfeller is in line to make his Germany debut at Wembley on Tuesday night
  • Löw is keen on intensifying the battle for places (pictured: Jerome Boateng, l., and Andre Schürrle) throughout his side ahead of next summer's World Cup

London - With Joachim Löw's defensive midfielders spending more time on the operating table than on the field of play in recent days, and with captain Philipp Lahm allowed to put his feet up, Tuesday night's international friendly against England is going to put the Bundestrainer's emergency plans for the holding midfielder to the test.

Löw was already planning for the trip to Wembley to be an experiment, although he has perhaps got more than he bargained for this week.

Search for a six

With Sami Khedira ruled out for months after tearing knee ligaments, and Bastian Schweinsteiger likely to be sidelined until the new year after an ankle operation, the Germany coach has been deprived of arguably his first-choice central midfield pairing. Lahm featured in that position in the 1-1 draw against Italy on Friday night, but he, along with Mesut Özil and Manuel Neuer, has been released from duty for the next few days and not travelled to London.

This presents Löw with the chance to rotate his side to an extreme at Wembley with two new faces bound to figure in front of the defence. In the back of his mind, Löw knows he needs his much preached-for competition for places to intensify between now and next summer's FIFA World Cup, and now is the chance for him to stoke the coals of that fire.

The likely candidates

"We have the Benders, Lars and Sven, who can play this position, and we have Toni Kroos. We also have Mario Götze, who can play in midfield. We definitely have options," he told ARD television. Those options may only be used as emergency solutions this week, though, with Löw convinced he will be able to name his strongest squad next May.

"We've practically got three important players out injured," said the tactician, including Borussia Dortmund's Ilkay Gündogan in that equation. "I think that Bastian will be back soon after the operation went well and I'm sure we'll have Ilkay back again too."

Behind the midfield, changes will also be made. The fit-again centre-back Per Mertesacker could relegate Friday night's goalscorer Mats Hummels, or FC Bayern München's Jerome Boateng, to a place on the bench while his Dortmund team mate Roman Weidenfeller should take his Germany bow with first-choice goalkeeper Neuer back home. For the 33-year-old, it is a chance to stake a late claim for a place in the World Cup squad, and to make amends for his last visit to Wembley, in May's UEFA Champions League final.

Weidenfeller's Wembley dream

"It's a dream just to be involved," said Weidenfeller on his first day of international duty. "I'm just going to enjoy every minute here." Nevertheless, when he received the long-awaited call, he did give a debut on Tuesday night some thought. "If I were to play at Wembley, that would be the cherry on top," he added.

Compared to the game against Italy, there may be more substance up top for Germany with Max Kruse in line for a start in the country where the traditional centre-forward was arguably invented. Löw is likely to revert to a system with a real striker having already experimented with a 'false nine", and the Borussia Mönchengladbach forward is the only such player in his squad.