Mertesacker impresses at Germany camp

Arsenal defender Per Mertesacker is on course to anchor Germany's back four at UEFA EURO 2012 after impressing during the first day of the Germans' training camp in Sardinia today. The 27-year-old centre-back has not played for the Gunners since February following ankle surgery, but he is on target to be fit when Germany open their EURO 2012 campaign against Portugal on 9 June in Lviv, Ukraine.

"He is incredibly focused, has worked hard and the European Championships have clearly made their impression on him," said Germany team manager Oliver Bierhoff. "Perhaps the only advantage to his injury was that it allowed him to concentrate on getting fit."

Mertesacker has made 79 appearances for his country and played a key role in the Germany teams which finished second at EURO 2008 and third at the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ in South Africa.

Bierhoff also revealed Arsenal-bound striker Lukas Podolski is feeling the effects of Cologne's relegation from the German league last Saturday. "He is not yet over it," admitted Bierhoff. "He is not moping around the hotel, but he is not yet back to playing the joker we all know, but I'm sure he will be back to his usual self soon."

EURO 2012 is held in Poland and the Ukraine from 8 June to 1 July and Germany have been drawn in Group B alongside the Netherlands, Portugal and Denmark.