With FC Bayern München's Jerome Boateng and FC Schalke 04's Benedikt Höwedes sidelined, Germany will look to another formidable pair of Bundesliga rocks to keep England quiet in Saturday's international friendly in Berlin.
Having been around the block a few times, Borussia Dortmund captain Mats Hummels certainly knows what to expect at the Olympiastadion, but his apprentice-for-the-week Jonathan Tah - the breakout Bayer 04 Leverkusen talent - is treading new territory.
'Here to learn'
"I'm going to give it absolutely everything and prove that I deserve to be here," Tah told www.dfb.de after receiving his maiden call-up to the senior Germany squad. "I didn't expect to be considered even with the injuries [to Boateng and Höwedes]. I was only thinking about the Under-21s. I always feel for injured players, but in football sometimes you benefit from others' misfortunes."
That is not to say Tah was merely an afterthought. The 20-year-old centre-back has been a regular at the heart of the Leverkusen defence since joining the club from Hamburger SV in summer 2015, making 25 Bundesliga appearances so far this term. He is the very definition of 'man-mountain', yet moves around the pitch and distributes the ball with elegance and dexterity that belie his 6'4" frame.
"The call-up is confirmation for me – it's the next step," he explained. "It gives be another push, boosts my self-confidence. Above all, I'm just really grateful, I’ve got a lot of people to thank – especially Bayer Leverkusen, my team-mates and the coach [Roger Schmidt] […] I want to build on the performances I've shown at club level, but I know I'm still starting out. I'm here to learn and gain experience."
'Playing at a title-winning level'
Training alongside, and potentially partnering, one of the modern game's select few defensive all-rounders in Hummels, Tah could not have wished for a more accomplished mentor. The two-time Bundesliga winner has provided the foundation for BVB's treble tilt in 2015/16, vanquishing painful memories of last season's dice with the drop in the process.
"Last season was not only an exception, it was an extreme situation," the 44-time Germany international recalled. "A combination of bad luck and a lack of confidence: it was a bizarre situation, but we told ourselves that the following year we would be at least the second-best team in Germany once again. It's positive that we've turned it around so emphatically, but we're not done yet, we still have a lot to come."
A champion in the making
As well as the Bundesliga, UEFA Europa League and DFB Cup, Hummels also has this summer's UEFA European Championships in France on his trophy-centred radar. Germany will head to the finals as one of the favourites to go the distance after lifting the FIFA World Cup two years ago, but for now at least, domestic affairs remain the priority for Dortmund's ever-pragmatic skipper.
"Last year Germany represented a sort of holiday from the crisis in Dortmund, whereas now the BVB players have come here with a positive outlook," Hummels explained. "We're playing at title-winning level, but Bayern have had very few slip-ups this season. We dropped seven points in three games last September, so you have to admit winning a cup is a lot more likely than us winning the Bundesliga."
Whichever way the season goes, it is a reminder of what a player of Hummels' ilk can achieve. Young Tah fits that mould and if he can continue his upward trajectory for club and country, it will not be long before the man Bayer 04 striker Stefan Kießling recently likened to a bull is marching up the stadium steps to collect one of football's top prizes.