Loew to continue squad clear-out for new-look Germany

Ryland JAMES
Germany's head coach Joachim Loew is expected to name a youthful forward line of Serge Gnarby, Timo Werner and Leroy Sane against Russia on Thursday

Joachim Loew is set to again give youth a chance in Germany's last internationals of 2018, against Russia and the Netherlands, as his squad clear-out continues following the World Cup debacle.

Having already dropped 2014 World Cup winner Sami Khedira, Loew left Jerome Boateng out of his latest squad and now Thomas Mueller is set to again be benched for Thursday's friendly against Russia in Leipzig.

Germany head coach Loew is without Marco Reus against the Russians as the Borussia Dortmund winger has a bruised foot.

After the worst 12 months in the history of the German Football Association (DFB) -- Germany have never before suffered six defeats in a calendar year -- change is needed, especially given their group-stage World Cup exit in Russia.

Loew said the youthful forward line of 22-year-old striker Timo Werner, plus wingers Leroy Sane, 22, and Serge Gnabry, 23, will get another chance against Russia having impressed in last month's 2-1 defeat in France.

"It looks as though the trio who played against France will also play up front against Russia," said Loew.

That would mean Mueller again starting on the bench, like he did in Paris, yet Loew insists the Bayern forward is still part of his plans.

"Thomas gives the younger players a lot of energy and is always able to decide games, even if he's going through a difficult phase," said Loew with Mueller currently struggling to hold down a regular place at Bayern.

"We have one year to prepare for Euro 2020 and to integrate young players."

- Dutch showdown -

Loew insisted the result against Russia is not as important as the performance, saying: "We want to use this chance to be more sure of our game and we are in a phase of rebuilding."

Only three members of the 2014 World Cup final team -- Manuel Neuer, Mats Hummels and Toni Kroos -- started against France, with the other eight players all between 22 and 25 years of age, a selection Loew is likely to repeat.

The Germans need a confidence-booster against the Russians ahead of their key Nations League showdown on Monday against the Netherlands in Gelsenkirchen.

Real Madrid midfielder Kroos is set to join the squad after Thursday's game.

Loew's side want to avenge their 3-0 loss in Amsterdam last month and beat the Dutch, who in turn would relegate Germany from Nations League A if they avoid defeat against France in Rotterdam on Friday.

However, Loew said it would not be the end of the world if Germany are relegated.

"We don't have things in our own hands anymore in order to stay in the league," admitted Loew, after Germany managed just one point from their first three games.

"Perhaps we made the mistake of putting too much emphasis on the Nations League -- it would not be the end of the world if we have to play in a lower division in 2020."

Loew is also freshening up his defence and with Boateng out, his 23-year-old Bayern Munich team-mate Niklas Suele is likely to partner Hummels in defence.

Hummels complained of feeling unwell playing for Bayern in the league defeat at Dortmund last Saturday, but Loew said he should be fit.

"Mats had a slight sniffle before the game against Dortmund, but he hasn't got a cold or fever," said Loew.