Gomez to have late fitness test for Germany

Group C leaders may play Kazakhstan without a recognised striker once more

 Mario Gomez and Jerome Boateng during a Germany training session last week. Photograph: Lisi Niesner/Reuters

Mario Gomez and Jerome Boateng during a Germany training session last week. Photograph: Lisi Niesner/Reuters

Mon, Mar 25, 2013, 13:37

Germany coach Joachim Löw will wait until a final training session on to see if central defender Benedikt Höwedes and striker Mario Gomez will be fit for Tuesday night's World Cup qualifier against Kazakhstan.

The coach said the pair was joined by Mesut Ozil for a run on Sunday but did not train with the rest of the team as Germany prepare for their second encounter with the Kazakhs after beating them 3-0 in Astana on Friday.

"I do not see a problem with Mesut for tomorrow but for the other two I will wait until the final training. Only after that will we take a final decision," Löw explained.

Höwedes and Gomez, the only striker left in the squad, are nursing minor muscle problems.

Germany are top of Group C on 13 points from five games, five points ahead of second-placed Sweden who have a game in hand.

The Republic of Ireland are currently fourth in the standings.

Low confirmed Ilkay Gundogan would be playing in midfield in place of the suspended Bastian Schweinsteiger, despite a late call-up for Borussia Dortmund teammate Sven Bender.

"Ilkay will play tomorrow. He has taken a huge step forward not only for Dortmund but for us as well," Löw said.

"He has won a lot of esteem and plays top international level football."

World number two Germany will be looking for a quick goal against Kazakhstan, ranked 139th in the world, to take any wind out of their sails as they did with two quick goals in Astana.

"I expect us to play with the same passion as we did in the first half in Kazakhstan," Löw said. "That we score an early goal and add to that to put them under pressure."