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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Germany and England newcomers have lots to play for

Several familiar faces are missing and there will be plenty of incentive for the newcomers when Germany face England in a friendly at the Olympiastadion on Wednesday (7:45 p.m. British time).

Wayne Rooney, Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, Rio Ferdinand and Joe Cole are among the England players out through injury while David Beckham's lack of recent action means he was not considered.

Germany are without captain Michael Ballack, midfielder Torsten Frings, attacking full back Philipp Lahm and Jens Lehmann, their recently-retired goalkeeper.

For home coach Joachim Loew it is a chance to continue a rebuilding job he started after Euro 2008.

Since Germany's defeat by Spain in the final, Loew has replaced Lehmann with Rene Adler, dropped Frings and Real Madrid defender Christoph Metzelder, and turned Piotr Trochowski, Simon Rolfes and Thomas Hitzlsperger into regulars.

Loew's decision to mix things up led to public rows with Ballack and Frings and while peace has since been restored neither man is in the squad for Wednesday.

Germany have four uncapped players in goalkeeper Tim Wiese, defenders Marvin Compper and Marcel Schaefer and midfielder Tobias Weis.

"I don't know how it will work yet but I want to give a chance to some or all of them," Loew told a news conference. "They're not in the squad by accident."

The last time the teams met in Germany in 2001 England won 5-1 in a World Cup qualifier in Munich. Germany won the last meeting 2-1 at Wembley last year.

Germany lead their qualifying group for the 2010 World Cup after three wins and a draw while England are in an even better position, having won all four of their games.

Fabio Capello's team will also have an experimental feel thanks to an injury list that includes Emile Heskey and Ashley Cole.

The Italian coach can try a new central midfield combination as the debate continues over whether or not Lampard and Gerrard click together.

Despite the long list of absentees England will need no extra motivation.

"England against Germany are always good games to play in so for me, I feel I have something to prove," said striker Darren Bent. "If I get the chance to prove myself then I'm up for the challenge."

Bent may have to wait for his opportunity with Jermain Defoe and Peter Crouch likely to start up front. But with no more matches for a while Capello will want to see as many of his players in action as possible

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