German legend Gerd Muller has claimed the nation's current crop of forwards would not have stood a chance of playing alongside him in his day. The 63-year-old, who scored 365 goals in the Bundesliga and 68 times in just 62 caps for his country, has criticised Miroslav Klose, Mario Gomez and Lukas Podolski ahead of next week's crucial 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ qualifier with Russia.

"When you see what strikers we have in the national team today... in my day, they would not have even been allowed to even sniff the ball," he told DSF television.

When you see what strikers we have in the national team today... in my day, they would not have even been allowed to even sniff the ball.

Gerd Muller on Germany's forwards

Only one man is deserving of a place in Joachim Low's attack, according to Muller, and that is his namesake Thomas Muller, who is making a good impression in his first season as a professional with Bayern Munich.

"He is an incredible young lad," added Muller. "He can use both his left and right foot, like me. He is quick, strong in the air and he is one that can be taken to the World Cup."

Low backing
However, Low has defended the three forwards he is almost certain to name in his squad this week, insisting times have changed since Muller hung up his boots.

"I have the utmost respect for players like Gerd Muller, Franz Beckenbauer and Gunter Netzer, and they are role models today, but you cannot make comparisons over decades," he told the Bild newspaper.

"It has become incredibly difficult for strikers. Football has developed particularly in the art of defending. Nowadays, strikers don't even get five minutes worth of the room that the strikers used to get over 90 minutes in a game."