Podolski and Götze look ready


GERMANY ASSISTANT coach Hansi Flick confirmed yesterday they expect to have no fresh injury worries ahead of tomorrow’s World Cup qualifier against the Republic of Ireland, after Lukas Podolski and Mario Götze both returned to training yesterday.

Podolski and Götze sat out Tuesday’s session, and although the latter did not take a full part yesterday, Flick indicated the Borussia Dortmund midfielder should be available to play in Dublin.

The Germans fly into Ireland this morning, having spent the week working almost exclusively on improving their defensive organisation. Following a lax display in last month’s 2-1 win over Austria in Vienna, Flick said they were hoping to be much more compact at the Aviva Stadium.

“The focus is absolutely on defensive work,” he told reporters. “We’ve been working on the basics. We saw that things weren’t optimal in this regard, and we spent the last two training sessions working on that.”

Tomorrow’s encounter will present Flick with a chance to catch up with Giovanni Trapattoni, who he worked with at Red Bull Salzburg. The Ireland manager was in charge of the Austrian club in 2006, when Flick left to take up his role with the German national team.

The former Bayern Munich and Cologne player said he had “absorbed everything that I could” from Trapattoni and is pleased to be crossing paths with him again.

“The Irish are a very strong team physically, very passionate, with players who are going to be driven on by fantastic supporters,” Flick said. “It’s certainly not going to be easy for us to assert ourselves there – we’re going to have to call on all our resources.

“I’m really looking forward to it personally, because I worked with Trapattoni briefly. He’s a very experienced and clever trainer who will definitely have studied us closely and who will know everything about our team. I’m very much looking forward to seeing him again. It was a brief but very nice time with him in Salzburg.”

Germany will be without injured Borussia Dortmund centre back Mats Hummels in Dublin, as well as midfielders Ilkay Gündogan and Lars Bender. Captain Philipp Lahm is suspended and Flick feels they might also have to overcome a surprise from the opposition manager.

“He’s from the Italian school, so they’ll be very strong in defence, and then with their passion, their will to perform, their dynamism, they’ll be looking to go on the attack, where they have plenty to offer. We have to be ready for that. He’s an absolute master tactician and he’ll be able to come up with a trick or two.”

Having reached the semi-finals of the last four major tournaments they have played in, Joachim Löw’s side are happy to embrace the expectation that comes with being top seeds in the group.

“We’re number two in the world and the Irish are, I think, number 26 ,” Flick said. “So it’s clear that we’re the favourites, and we accept that. We know our strengths and we know what we can bring to bear . . . we’re going there with respect for Ireland but without fear of them.”

With two Premier League and two Champions League goals to his name already since his summer move to Arsenal, Lukas Podolski was in relaxed mood at yesterday’s Frankfurt press conference.

“They’re an uncomfortable opponent,” Podolski said of Ireland. “Like Hansi already said, they have supporters that are crazy in the positive sense, and a new stadium where there will be 40,000 crazy Irish fans.

“It’s going to be a very tough game for us. We have to prepare well and obviously we want to take three points back with us.”

When pressed again, the 27-year-old was unequivocal about Germany’s ambitions in Dublin.

“I’m going to be straight with you: we have the talent to take the three points.”

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