Germany said Saturday a final decision on whether influential midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger would play in the crunch FIFA World Cup™ game against England would be made on match day.
German goalkeeping coach Andres Koepke, speaking to reporters at Bloemfontein's Free State stadium, said Schweinsteiger and defender Jerome Boateng had participated in the team's final training session.
"We've just completed our final training session. Even the players with minor injuries were able to participate," Koepke said. "They need to be 100 per cent in terms of fitness so our doctors will decide tomorrow shortly before the match," Koepke said, adding that neither Schweinsteiger nor Boateng completed the whole session.
Bayern Munich star Schweinsteiger has been suffering from a hamstring strain as well as a back muscle injury and was substituted in the 1-0 win over Ghana on Wednesday which secured Germany's progress into the second round.
We've just completed our final training session. Even the players with minor injuries were able to participate.
Boateng, also facing a fitness battle after picking up a calf strain against Ghana, is unlikely to play, with Marcell Jansen set to take his place. Koepke confirmed that forward Cacau would be out for four or five days with a torn ligament.
When asked about the soaring confidence back home in Germany ahead of the last-16 tie, Koepke said: "We also believe we can do it. We are full of confidence and we're perfectly prepared to play a great match tomorrow."
Koepke said the match was as big for Germans as for the English, who have often suffered heartbreak at the hands of the Germans, including in penalty shoot-outs at the FIFA World Cup in 1990 and at UEFA EURO 1996. He said it would be a special occasion, even for players who had been very young for some of the past classic encounters, due to the sheer size of the match. "This is a special situation and I'm sure it's going to translate on to the pitch as well," he said.
Koepke, who famously saved Gareth Southgate's penalty in the UEFA EURO 1996 semi-final, said Germany did not want the match to go to penalties but were prepared for them. "Basically, I think it would be great not to go to a penalty shoot-out," he said.
And he said there were no fears in the camp about the likely hordes of England fans who were likely to cram into the stadium, turning it into a virtual home game for the English. "It might be like an away game for us but I don't think it's going to impact," he said