- Associated Press - Friday, October 6, 2017

BELFAST, Northern Ireland (AP) - Real Madrid midfielder Toni Kroos has been released from Germany’s World Cup qualifying squad to allow him to recover from a rib injury.

Kroos recently missed games for Madrid with the same injury but played in Germany’s 3-1 win over Northern Ireland on Thursday, helping the team secure qualification for next year’s tournament in Russia.

The German soccer federation says Kroos left the team hotel in Belfast on Friday morning in order to “fully heal.”

Germany coach Joachim Loew says “we know what Toni can give us. When it comes down to it we can always rely on him. The deciding factor was that he is completely fit for next year.”

Germany plays Azerbaijan on Sunday as it bids to complete qualification with 10 wins from 10 games.

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