Defender Jonathan Tah was called up for Germany in place of injured Antonio Ruediger on Wednesday, two days before the start of Euro 2016, with coach Joachim Loew keeping his sights on the title despite the mounting injury woes.
Loew has turned to the 20-year-old Bayer Leverkusen player after he enjoyed a good Bundesliga season, hoping he can provide solutions to his injury-ridden backline that also includes centre-back Mats Hummels, as the world champions eye their first continental crown in 20 years.
“I wanted a one-on-one replacement for Ruediger, someone who can play a centre-back role,” Loew said, praising Tah’s individual fitness regime of the past three weeks despite not being called up in the preliminary squad last month.
Tah, who has won one senior cap, replaces Ruediger who was injured in their first training session in France on Tuesday, only hours after the team’s arrival.
“Players who were a key part of my plans a few months ago are now missing,” Loew told reporters in his first news conference at their tournament base.
“Marco Reus, Ilkay Guendogan and now Ruediger. Bastian Schweinsteiger and Mats Hummels are nursing injuries. Obviously I would have liked to have the squad I had imagined a few months ago. But that is not the case,” said the coach.
Loew’s men, who are chasing their fourth European Championship trophy but their first since 1996, play Ukraine, Northern Ireland and Poland in the group stage of the competition that starts on Friday.
“But we won’t be complaining. What is important is to find solutions and we are not lowering our target. We know where we want to go and this target will not shift.”
Hummels was also making progress, recovering gradually from a muscle injury, Loew said. “Hummels shows very positive development,” Loew said. “We are now going day by day and will increase his training programme.”
But he still trained alone on Wednesday, looking unlikely to be fit in time for the first match, against Ukraine on June 12.