England one of the favourites for Euro 2016, says Germany boss

Germany head coach Joachim Low believes England are serious contenders for the Euro 2016 crown.
England one of the favourites for Euro 2016, says Germany boss

Roy Hodgson’s men travel to Berlin this week as they step-up their preparations for France with a mouthwatering friendly against the world champions.

England reached this summer’s finals with a 100% record in qualification — the only country to manage the feat, although the level of opposition meant it was hardly a yardstick with which to accurately measure progress.

However, the match with Germany on Saturday, like November’s friendlies against Spain and France, will give a more accurate reflection of how the Three Lions are shaping up for a tournament Low expects them to challenge for.

“This will be a taste of what we can expect at the Euros,” the Germany head coach said, speaking ahead of the friendlies against England and Italy.

“The opponents are both interesting and are two of the favourites to win the European Championship. It will be a good test.

“The battle for places in the squad is seriously beginning now — there are still eight weeks until the end of the season.

“We have selected a large squad in order to speak with the players about what we expect. We are looking at their form and fitness as a whole.”

Emre Can, Mesut Ozil, and Bastian Schweinsteiger are the only Premier League representatives in Germany’s 26-man squad for the upcoming friendlies.

Schweinsteiger is slowly stepping up his return from a knee injury, having made just four appearances from the Manchester United bench since ending a two-month lay-off.

Being restricted to just 65 minutes means Low will tread carefully with team captain Schweinsteiger, who the German manager insists has not spoken about retiring after Euro 2016.

“No, there isn’t (any arrangement), as it isn’t something I would generally do before a tournament,” he said of the 31-year-old in an interview with SID. “For me this isn’t a question at the moment.

“Bastian Schweinsteiger has been injured lately, so obviously he will have to recover first, because at the moment he isn’t 100% and there is no way he can be right now.

Meanwhile Everton captain Phil Jagielka hopes to force his way back into England reckoning despite believing coach Hodgson has already settled on three of his back four.

The 33-year-old centre-back’s last international appearance was in the Euro 2016 qualifying victory over Lithuania in October.

Shortly afterwards injury sidelined him for more than two months, meaning he missed England’s two friendlies against France and Spain.

He has been recalled for the games against Germany and Holland but accepts he has a fight on his hands to win back a starting place before this summer’s tournament. “We will find out more in these two games, if not the three before the finals,” said Jagielka.

“You would have to ask Roy [but] it looks like you have probably got Nathaniel Clyne, Gaz (Gary Cahill), Chris (Smalling) and a left-back. That is probably the starting back four with Joe (Hart) in goal.

“Obviously John (Stones) is looking to get back in there as well but I’ve got to think I have a chance. I am not going there to wash people’s boots and clean the kit. I am going there to try to get a game.”

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