Germany coach Joachim Loew says he will use the forthcoming friendlies against England and France to start making some “tough decisions” ahead of next year’s World Cup defense in Russia.
Germany faces England away at Wembley on Friday and hosts France in Cologne four days later, which Loew will use to review his options.
The German squad gather in Berlin on Tuesday to prepare for the double-header with goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, plus forwards Thomas Mueller and Marco Reus sidelined by injury.
Even without the star trio, Germany has an embarrassment of riches with new names pushing the established stars who won the 2014 World Cup.
The gamble of taking an inexperienced squad of fringe players to Russia for the Confederations Cup in June paid off for Loew.
Rising stars Timo Werner, Lars Stindl, Niklas Suele and Sebastian Rudy all seized their chance to impress.
Now Loew has numerous options for the England and France friendlies which are set to spark a fight for places in his 23-man World Cup squad.
“We have to make tough decisions,” said Loew in Berlin with Germany also to face Spain and Brazil in friendlies next March.
“If you want to be world champion, you need world-class players.
“We have to have an incredibly strong squad where every player is in top shape – every day and every minute.”
Midfielders Mario Goetze and Ilkay Gundogan, who have been in form for Borussia Dortmund and Manchester City respectively, must prove themselves after lengthy spells on the sidelines.
“I am very happy to be back after nearly a year out and I’m just as pleased for Ilkay,” Goetze wrote on Twitter after his recall.
The challenge for the Germans will be to repeat their Brazil 2014 success as the name to beat at the World Cup in Russia.
“We are the only team that can get worse – everyone will compete against us with huge motivation,” said Loew.
“We are the world champions and Confederations Cup winners – the world’s number one.”
In particular, Loew will use the England game to look at the left-back position.
His first-choice starter, Cologne’s Jonas Hector, is injured leaving Marvin Plattenhardt of Hertha Berlin and RB Leipzig’s uncapped Marcel Halstenberg vying for the berth