Germany's Ozil still doubtful for Azerbaijan qualifier: Loew

BERLIN: Germany midfielder Mesut Ozil is doubtful for Sunday's World Cup 2018 qualifier at Azerbaijan after receiving treatment for a back injury, coach Joachim Loew said on Saturday.

Ozil, who missed their 1-0 friendly win over England on Wednesday, skipped Friday's training session before the team headed for Baku and will have to wait until later on Saturday for a final decision, the coach said.

"Yesterday Sami Khedira, Mario Gomez and Julian Draxler trained normally with no problems at all," Loew told reporters in Baku. The three players were also sidelined for the England game.

"Everyone trained apart from Mesut," Loew said. "He will have to wait until the last training (session). He had back problems and received treatment yesterday and today. We will train today and then decide."

Loew said he was planning to start with Benedikt Hoewedes as a partner to Mats Hummels in the central defence, replacing Antonio Ruediger, who had started against England.

He also confirmed Khedira would be the team captain, in the absence of keeper Manuel Neuer.

The world champions are five points clear at the top of qualifying Group C, having won all four of their matches so far.

"It is the first qualifier for some time and for us the aim is clearly defined," said Loew, who led them to the 2014 World Cup title.

"We want to finish the qualifiers until the summer without losing a point. We play San Marino in June. So we have to get the three points here."