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‘Not worth risking’ – Loew defends Neuer omission

Berlin (AFP) – Germany head coach Joachim Loew said he is not prepared to risk captain Manuel Neuer for their World Cup qualifiers despite grumblings from the goalkeeper, who is back after injury.

Neuer was unhappy about being omitted when Loew named his squad for the Russia 2018 qualifiers against the Czech Republic in Prague on Friday and Norway four days later in Stuttgart.

“It would have been nice to be there and it wasn’t my decision,” complained Neuer at the weekend.

However, the 31-year-old world-class goalkeeper admits it was a “logical decision” having only returned for Bayern Munich on Saturday after fracturing his foot in April.

Like Neuer’s club team-mate Jerome Boateng, who is working on his fitness after a thigh injury, Loew says it is not worth risking Neuer.

“Like Jerome Boateng, he’s not 100 percent. Maybe he can take advantage of the next two weeks,” Loew told magazine Kicker on Monday with Neuer expected to work on his fitness.

“It would be fatal to put him at risk now.”

Germany are on the verge of qualifying for next year’s World Cup.

With six wins out of six, the 2014 world champions can secure their passage to Russia with three points in Prague, as long as group rivals Northern Ireland fail to win both of their outings against San Marino and the Czechs.

With Neuer absent in Prague, either Barcelona goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Leverkusen’s Bernd Leno or Paris Saint-Germain’s Kevin Trapp will be between the posts.

Loew has called up 17 of the squad which won the Confederations Cup in July and only seven which won the 2014 World Cup.

The Germany boss says he has a pool of up to 40 names to choose form and that the competition for places “is greater than ever” as they look to defend the world title.

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