Germany coach Joachim Low is set to make an exception to his policy of only choosing players who are in form and playing regularly for their club, by naming Lukas Podolski in his 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ squad.
With five months to go before the 49-year-old must make his selections, he recently declared that he would not be repeating the mistake of calling up players merely on past reputation, and added that he expects to find 23 hungry and motivated players during the second half of the 2009/10 season. However, Podolski, who has so far failed to live up to his own glittering reputation since rejoining Cologne last summer, appears to have been given special dispensation even if he does not start finding the back of the net with regularity.
The former Bayern Munich forward has scored 37 times in 69 games for Germany, but he has managed to find the back of the net only once since joining his hometown club in July. Nevertheless, Low has declined the notion of Podolski losing his place in the Germany set-up should he fail to up the ante in 2010.
"There are no doubts at all about his status as a national team player," he told Cologne's Express newspaper. "His goalscoring record with us is noteworthy.
"He is cheeky and is not afraid. In the national team, he nearly always plays well. Even against top nations, he never shows any nerves and he performs excellently."
Kroos inclusion in balance
On the other hand, Bayer Leverkusen playmaker Toni Kroos has been told he still has a lot of work to do to convince Low of his suitability for a place on the plane to South Africa. The 20-year-old, who is on loan at the Bundesliga leaders from Bayern Munich until the end of the season, has been one of the key components in Leverkusen's unbeaten first half of the season, but Low may take a little more convincing.
"He has developed a lot, but we will have to see whether that is enough for South Africa," said the Germany coach. "I will wait to see what the second half of the season brings. We have taken note of his good performances in the first half of the season and with the Under-21s."