Germany drop Frings for Moscow clash

BERLIN: With skipper Michael Ballack telling coach Joachim Loew he has recovered from a calf injury ahead of next week’s crucial World Cup qualifier against Russia, Germany found no room for midfielder Torsten Frings.

Chelsea midfielder Ballack sat out of Wednesday’s 1-0 Champions League win at Apoel Nicosia with a calf injury, but sent Loew a text message on Thursday saying he will be fit for the Group Four clash on October 10 in Moscow and then the final game with Finland four days later. Loew does make one change from the last squad with goalkeeper Tim Wiese in for the sick Robert Enke, although Rene Adler will start between the posts for the European runners up.

European youth international championships winner Jerome Boateng, who has impressed this season for Bundesliga pace-setters Hamburg, also comes into the senior picture for the first time — but Frings, who has won 79 caps, misses out although Loew says his international career “is not over.” The Werder Bremen star fell out with the coach earlier this year for leaving him out of the squad to face Azerbaijan without any explanation.

Loew justified his decision by saying that if he called up Frings the latter would expect to start and he wanted to blood some new talent. Germany are just a point ahead of Russia in the qualifying group and are out to ensure the win which would guarantee the three-time world champions a place in South Africa next June regardless of their last match against Finland in Hamburg on October 14.

A second-place finish in the group would mean Germany face a play-off over two legs against one of the other eight best runners-up from the European qualifying zone.

The draw for the play-offs will be made on October 19 and the games will be played on November 14 and 18.