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Germany rest Neuer, Gundogan set to take over captaincy

Berlin (AFP) – Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer will sit out Wednesday’s World Cup qualifier against North Macedonia with Manchester City midfielder Ilkay Gundogan set to take over as captain.

“Manuel Neuer will stay with the team even though he’s not playing. Ilkay Gundogan will be captain if he starts,” Germany head coach Joachim Loew said Tuesday.

Germany have won their Group J qualifiers against Iceland and Romania with Loew targeting a hat-trick of wins in Duisburg.

With Neuer rested, Barcelona’s Marc-Andre ter Stegen will make his first Germany appearance since November 2019.

Having named unchanged starting sides for the win over Iceland and Sunday’s 1-0 victory in Bucharest, Loew is looking at his options.

Chelsea striker Timo Werner may start after two appearances off the bench while Moenchengladbach midfielder Florian Neuhaus is pushing for a place in the starting side.

North Macedonia lost 3-2 to Romania in their opening qualifier before thumping minnows Liechtenstein 5-0 on Saturday at home in Skopje.

While Loew insists the Germans are not taking their opponents lighty, he wants to keep the visitors goalless as Germany seek three straight clean sheets for the first time in four years.

Leverkusen teen Florian Wirtz, 17, could make his debut after two games on the bench.

Loew admits Iceland, Romania and North Macedonia are “not the calibre” of teams Germany will face at the Euro 2020 finals.

He knows the ‘Mannschaft’ have “not yet been challenged”, three months before the start of the European championship where they will meet world champions France and holders Portugal.

Before their opening game at the Euro against France on June 15, Germany plan to face Denmark on June 2 and Latvia five days later in warm-up matches.

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