Germany is hoping captain Bastian Schweinsteiger can recover to play the European Championship semifinal against France in Marseille on Thursday.
Schweinsteiger, who took a knock to his injury-prone right knee in Saturday’s quarterfinal win over Italy, started the team’s last training session at its tournament base on Wednesday but his participation remains in question.
Borussia Dortmund’s Julian Weigl or Liverpool’s Emre Can could step in for their tournament debuts if the 31-year-old Schweinsteiger doesn’t make it.
The combative midfielder strained a ligament in the same knee that sustained two serious injuries this season and put his availability for Euro 2016 in doubt. He trained Wednesday with tape bound just below both knees.
Defender Benedikt Hoewedes also trained after sitting out the previous day’s session.
“I definitely won’t play any player who isn’t 100 per cent fit,” Germany coach Joachim Loew said on Monday.
Germany will certainly be without striker Mario Gomez and midfielder Sami Khedira through injury, and defender Mats Hummels, who is suspended.
Gomez is out for the rest of the tournament after tearing a muscle in his right thigh in the win over Italy, while Khedira faces a race against time to be fit for a possible final appearance with a left groin injury from the same game.
Despite the absences, Germany forward Thomas Mueller believes the side has more than enough strength in depth to be able to compensate, and that it has nothing to fear against France.
“Fear has no place in the team,” Mueller said. “Of course France didn’t reach the semifinal through luck, but because they have a lot of class. We have respect, but I’m always optimistic that we’ll find solutions, even when we have absences. I don’t think we’ve ever been as well-covered with the players waiting to come in.”
Germany is bidding to follow its World Cup win with its fourth European title and its first since 1996. The side embarrassed host Brazil 7-1 in the World Cup semifinal two years ago but Mueller didn’t see any parallels between the games despite facing the hosts again at the same stage.
“If there are parallels, it’ll be good for us. But I’m not going to say that we’re going to win 7-1. That would be too much,” Mueller said.
“France are under a bit of pressure because they’re hosts. They know they’re playing against an excellent Germany team. France-Germany, they were two of the favorites already beforehand. And now they meet in the semifinal. You don’t have many better football games.”