- Associated Press - Friday, March 18, 2016

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) - Germany coach Joachim Loew has called up Bayer Leverkusen defender Jonathan Tah for friendlies against England and Italy.

The newcomer fills the gap left by the injuries to Jerome Boateng and Benedikt Hoewedes, who will miss Germany’s most important warm-up matches before the European Championship in France in June.

“We wanted another option for our defense,” Loew said Friday. “We have watched Jonathan Tah several times and we are eager to see how he will present himself.”

Bayern Munich forward Mario Goetze, who scored the winning goal in the 2014 World Cup final against Argentina, and captain Bastian Schweinsteiger, the Manchester United midfielder, return after injuries but Dortmund midfielder Ilkay Gundogan is out with a foot injury.

“As captain, Bastian wanted to be around for the two matches at all cost,” Loew said. “This is an exemplary attitude. Bastian is an absolute leader. The match against England is very special and so is the match in Munich.”

Schweinsteiger played for Bayern Munich before moving to United.

Loew included four goalkeepers, among them Kevin Trapp from Paris Saint-Germain and Marc ter Stegen from Barcelona. Besiktas striker Mario Gomez is also in the squad.

Germany plays England on March 26 in Berlin and meets Italy three days later in Munich.

Loew said he considers England and Italy among the European Championship favorites, along with Spain, Belgium, France and Germany.

“I expect to draw valuable conclusions from the two matches, and for me that’s more important than the results,” Loew said.

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Germany squad:

Goalkeepers: Bernd Leno (Bayer Leverkusen), Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich), Marc-Andre ter Stegen (Barcelona), Kevin Trapp (Paris Saint-Germain)

Defenders: Emre Can (Liverpool), Matthias Ginter (Borussia Dortmund), Jonas Hector (Cologne), Mats Hummels (Borussia Dortmund), Shkodran Mustafi (Valencia), Antonio Ruediger (Roma), Sebastian Rudy (Hoffenheim), Jonathan Tah (Bayer Leverkusen)

Midfielders: Karim Bellarabi (Bayer Leverkusen), Julian Draxler (Wolfsburg), Sami Khedira (Juventus), Christoph Kramer (Bayer Leverkusen), Toni Kroos (Real Madrid), Thomas Mueller (Bayern Munich), Mesut Ozil (Arsenal), Lukas Podolski (Galatasaray), Marco Reus (Borussia Dortmund), Andre Schuerrle (Wolfsburg), Bastian Schweinsteiger (Manchester United)

Forwards: Mario Gomez (Besiktas), Mario Goetze (Bayern Munich), Max Kruse (Wolfsburg), Kevin Volland (Hoffenheim)

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