Germany coach Joachim Low has backed striker Miroslav Klose to end his slump and return to the goalscoring form that made him the FIFA World Cup's™ top scorer four years ago.

After being crowned top-scorer at Germany 2006, Klose, who turned 32 on Wednesday, was a shadow of his former self at Bayern Munich last season, scoring just three Bundesliga goals and mainly warming the bench. However, with 48 goals in 96 games for Germany, Low knows his striker has proven pedigree with the national side and says Klose is returning to form at just the right time having scored twice in a practice match here on Monday.

"He has worked hard in recent weeks and I felt for the first time on Tuesday that he felt better prepared physically," Low insisted on Wednesday at Germany's FIFA World Cup base. "He is a very important player for us, but the situation was not easy for him last season. Bayern won the league and cup double, he has not played much and has a strong desire to compete. But he has worked hard in our training sessions."

He is a very important player for us, but the situation was not easy for him last season.

Joachim Low on Miroslav Klose

It was Klose's goals which took Germany to the FIFA World Cup in South Africa after his single effort in Moscow last October booked Low's side their place. As a player who shuns the media limelight, Klose has held his tongue over his lack of opportunities at Bayern up front behind Croatia's Ivica Olic and Germany team-mates Thomas Muller and Mario Gomez.

He faces a race with Stuttgart's Brazilian-born forward Cacau to be selected as Germany's lone striker for their opening FIFA World Cup clash on Sunday, but insists he has taken on extra training to prove himself. Cacau has stolen a march on Klose in the race to be choosen for Sunday after the Stuttgart ace scored three goals in two pre-FIFA World Cup warm-up games while Klose failed to find the net.

"I am confident I will play well at the World Cup," Klose told German magazine Kicker on Monday.  "Since I am on probation in terms of selection, I have been doing two workouts a day and working hard in training."

Klose's FIFA World Cup record speaks for itself: in each of the last two tournaments he has scored five goals. "I want to score more than five goals this time, I know that Brazil's Ronaldo leads the all-time World Cup scorers with 15 goals in front of (Germany's) Gerd Muller," he said.

With ten goals to his name, Klose is the only player competing in South Africa who can dislodge Ronaldo as the FIFA World Cup's top scorer of all time.