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Bastian Schweinsteiger

Loew waits on Schweinsteiger, Hummels for Euro opener

Gelsenkirchen (Germany) (AFP) – Germany coach Joachim Loew says his priority is getting captain Bastian Schweinsteiger and key defender Mats Hummels fit for Euro 2016, following Saturday’s 2-0 confidence-boosting friendly win over Hungary.

Schweinsteiger played the last 23 minutes in Gelsenkirchen after three months sidelined by a torn medial knee ligament, while Hummels is out with a calf tear.

Manchester United star Schweinsteiger admits he is unlikely to play the full 90 minutes of Germany’s opening Group C game at Euro 2016 against Ukraine in Lille on June 12 before facing Poland four days later, then Northern Ireland on June 21.

Hummels has said he does not expect to be fit until at least their second game against Poland in Paris on June 16. 

“He hasn’t got any playing rhythm at the moment, so we’ll have to see,” said Loew when asked if Schweinsteiger will play in the world champions opening game.

“We have to see how Hummels gets on.”

But Loew is confident both Sami Khedira and Jerome Boateng, who had to be treated on the pitch in Gelsenkirchen, will be fit to face Ukraine.

“We took Sami Khedira off at the start of the second half as a precaution, Boateng had a pressed nerve, but was able to play on,” added Loew.

Germany’s head coach was pleased to leave Gelsenkirchen with no significant injuries.

Just as he did for the 2014 World Cup, Loew had to strike off winger Marco Reus from his final squad last Tuesday, this time with a groin injury after torn ankle ligaments ruled the Borussia Dortmund winger out of Brazil.

This was the first time Germany had kept a clean sheet in the last year and Loew was grateful for the win after an experimental side was humbled 3-1 by Slovakia in Augsburg last Sunday.

“It was important to keep them down to nil, the win gives us a bit of stability and a good feeling for next week,” added Loew.

A first-half own-goal by Hungary defender Adam Lang and a second from Thomas Mueller sealed the Germans’ win, but the biggest boost was seeing Schweinsteiger play his first football since injury in March.

“It was good to get the first 25-odd minutes under my belt, but I don’t honestly think I can play the 90 minutes of our first game,” admitted Schweinsteiger.

“That said, I could do much before this Euro than I could two years ago before the World Cup,” he added, having carried an ankle injury before Brazil 2014, but went on to produce a commanding performance for Germany the Rio de Janeiro final.

Having toyed with playing a three-man defence, Loew reverted to the 4-2-3-1 which won Germany the title in Brazil.

He started with Cologne’s Jonas Hector at right-back for the first-half, then Liverpool’s Emre Can for the second, in the only defensive position still to be decided before the Euro starts.

This was no more than a satisfactory performance from the world champions, who have a habit of raising their game for major tournaments.

“We started well and let the ball run for us, perhaps a bit too much,” said Germany defender Boateng, whose superbly floated cross led to their second goal by Mueller.

“After the break, we gave the ball away too much, but all in all it was a good performance.

“I believe we can be happy, we played better than in our previous game.”

Hungary play Austria in their first Group F match on June 14 in Bordeaux, before also facing Portugal and Iceland, and their German coach Bernd Storck was pleased, despite the defeat.

“We had a few good attempts to play from the back, but of course it’s very difficult against such a good opponent,” said Storck.

“It was obvious that we would be under pressure, but we did our best and gave a good account of ourselves.

“Our strength is how compact we are in defence and that is just how we’ll be against Austria.

“We picked up some good insights ahead of the Euro and that will help for our first group game.”

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