- Associated Press - Friday, March 17, 2017

BERLIN (AP) - Germany coach Joachim Loew called up Leipzig forward Timo Werner for the first time and World Cup winner Lukas Podolski for the last time on Friday for upcoming games against England and Azerbaijan.

The 31-year-old Podolski will play his 130th and final game for Germany in Wednesday’s friendly against England in Dortmund. The Galatasaray player announced his retirement after last year’s European Championship. Since making his debut on June 6, 2004, the Polish-born forward has scored 48 goals for Germany.

“It’s great that Lukas will get a send-off in these fantastic settings,” Loew said. “He’s getting a worthy farewell and he earned it. Games against England are absolute classics, and in front of brilliant fans in Dortmund.”

Germany has 12 wins and 16 losses against England in 34 meetings between the countries. England won the last friendly 3-2 in Berlin.

Germany will play Azerbaijan in a World Cup qualifier in Baku on March 26 and the 21-year-old Werner has been included in Loew’s 24-man squad for the first time after scoring 14 goals for Leipzig this season.

“Werner is a young and interesting player with good potential,” Loew said. “He’s very flexible and has consistently played at a high level this season. I’m looking forward to welcoming him to our group and being able to observe him.”

Roma defender Antonio Ruediger was recalled after working his way back from a knee injury that ruled him out of Euro 2016 when he tore a cruciate ligament in the buildup to the tournament.

Defending champion Germany leads Group C with four wins from four games, 16 goals scored and none conceded.

“Our aim is to book our ticket for the World Cup as soon as possible. We’re on the right path and we don’t want to stray,” Loew said. “The job in Baku is anything but simple. Azerbaijan beat Norway at home so we’re warned. But I’ve great confidence in my players.”

Borussia Dortmund players Marco Reus and Mario Goetze were ruled out through injury.

Germany has won all four previous meetings against Azerbaijan.

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Squad:

Goalkeepers: Bernd Leno (Bayer Leverkusen), Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich), Marc-Andre ter Stegen (Barcelona)

Defenders: Jonas Hector (Cologne), Benedikt Hoewedes (Schalke), Mats Hummels (Bayern Munich), Joshua Kimmich (Bayern Munich), Shkodran Mustafi (Arsenal), Sebastian Rudy (Hoffenheim), Antonio Ruediger (Roma), Niklas Suele (Hoffenheim)

Midfielders: Julian Brandt (Bayer Leverkusen), Emre Can (Liverpool), Julian Draxler (Paris Saint-Germain), Sami Khedira (Juventus), Toni Kroos (Real Madrid), Thomas Mueller (Bayern Munich), Mesut Ozil (Arsenal), Leroy Sane (Manchester City), Julian Weigl (Borussia Dortmund)

Forwards: Timo Werner (Leipzig), Andre Schuerrle (Borussia Dortmund), Mario Gomez (Wolfsburg), Lukas Podolski (Galatasaray)

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