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Podolski captains Germany on farewell against England

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Germany’s midfielder Lukas Podolski smiles as he answers to journalists during a joint press conference with Germany’s head coach Joachim Loew (unseen) in Dortmund, western Germany, on March 21, 2017, one day ahead of the friendly football match between Germany and England.

Lukas Podolski will captain injury-hit Germany on his farewell international appearance in Wednesday’s friendly against England, head coach Joachim Loew has confirmed.

Podolski, 31, will make his 130th and final appearance by wearing the captain’s armband against Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions in Dortmund.

“It’s sensational, you can’t ask for more,” said Podolski, who will join Japan’s Vissel Kobe next season, upon hearing he will captain his country on his farewell.

“My final appearance will be a lovely, but also a sad moment for me.

“I’m pleased I will get a chance to say goodbye to the fans,” added the Galatasaray striker, who made his international debut in 2004.

However, world champions Germany are missing a host of first-choice players against Gareth Southgate’s England.

“As well as our captain Manuel Neuer, Mario Gomez, Mesut Ozil and Julian Draxler are also injured,” Loew told a press conference in Dortmund.

“Germany versus England is usually a classic, but this one is different as I am missing a lot of good players.

“I see this England team as one in transition. Their coach wants more modern football, more ball possession.

“I’ve watched their game (a 2-2 draw last November) against Spain and they put in a very strong performance.

“They have a lot of very good, very quick players, who can counter attack very well. They are bold and take risks.”

With both attacking midfielders Draxler of Paris Saint-Germain and Arsenal’s Ozil out with thigh injuries, Real Madrid’s Toni Kroos is most likely to fill the role.

Gomez, 31, is missing with a groin strain, so RB Leipzig’s Timo Werner, 21, is set to make his debut having hit 14 goals in the Bundesliga so far this season.

In the absence of first-choice goalkeeper Neuer, who has a calf injury, PSG’s Kevin Trapp is tipped to make his Germany debut between the posts.

Loew is already without injured defender Jerome Boateng and winger Marco Reus while World Cup winner Mario Goetze is sidelined until next season with a metabolism disorder.

Germany’s head coach will be hoping to have some of his stars back for Sunday’s 2018 World Cup qualifier against Azerbaijan in Baku with his side five points clear in their group.


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