Germany injury worries recede as WCup approaches

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FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) - Germany’s World Cup injury problems are receding ahead of Friday’s friendly against Armenia, the team’s last game before departing for Brazil.

Goalkeeper Manuel Neuer has been laboring with a shoulder injury and won’t face Armenia, but only “because we don’t want to take any risks” coach Joachim Loew said Thursday.

“(Team doctor Hans-Wilhelm) Mueller-Wohlfahrt says there’s absolutely no danger of him missing the first game against Portugal” at the World Cup, Loew said. “We know how important a good start in the competition is for us.”

Borussia Dortmund goalkeeper Roman Weidenfeller will play against Armenia.

Loew said he expected both Philipp Lahm and Bastian Schweinsteiger to play some part on Friday. Lahm has recovered from an ankle injury while Bayern Munich teammate Schweinsteiger had a knee problem.

“All three Munich players have told me they no longer have any problems,” Loew said.

Germany could only draw 2-2 with Cameroon in last Sunday’s friendly but Loew said it was normal that his players weren’t at 100 percent after the training camp in South Tyrol, northern Italy.

“Preparations, from my point of view, have worked out very well with the players we had,” Loew said. “I also think it was important for the players to rest a couple of days (this week), good for them to recover some energy.”

The German coach said he was disappointed with some of the reaction to Mesut Ozil’s perceived poor form. The Arsenal attacking midfielder has been heavily criticized following several underwhelming performances.

“I’m surprised at the reaction against Ozil,” Loew said. “When you give him confidence he can display his outstanding qualities.”

Against Armenia, he says he wants a good game “so we can leave our fans smiling.”

“Armenia are good on the counterattack; they have a similar style to Portugal,” Loew said. “They’re good opponents for us.”

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