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Germany name Euro squad

Last updated on: May 24, 2004 20:04 IST

Hanover 96 striker Thomas Brdaric was a surprise selection on Monday by Germany coach Rudi Voeller in his squad for Euro 2004.

The 29-year-old Brdaric, who has played only once for Germany more than two years ago, has scored 12 goals for his club in the Bundesliga this season.

The other names on the list of 22 players unveiled for the finals in Portugal starting on June 12 were largely expected, but Voeller has left the door open for a young player.

A 23rd player, a member of Germany's under-21 squad, would be named before June 2, Voeller said.

The favourite is Cologne striker Lukas Podolski, with Bayern Munich midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger also an option.

"Podolski has the best chance at the moment," Voeller said of the gifted 18-year-old forward who has scored 10 goals from 19 Bundesliga games.

Brdaric was the second most prolific German national in the Bundesliga this season behind Hansa Rostock's Martin Max, who scored 20 goals but is 35 and plays no role in Voeller's plans.

A member of the Bayer Leverkusen squad that reached the Champions League final in 2002, Brdaric won his only cap in a 4-2 win over the United States in a friendly in March 2002.

"He has been exceptional in the second part of the season," Voeller, who is not spoilt for choice up front, said.

"I've seen goals from him which I don't see often from other German players," added the former Germany striker.

UNDER PRESSURE

Brdaric's selection means Bayer Leverkusen's Oliver Neuville, who has been struggling lately, will not go to Portugal.

Voeller has been under pressure to make changes after the 5-1 defeat by Romania in a friendly in April exposed the 2002 World Cup runners-up's limitations.

There will be young blood in the squad, probably in Podolski, but Voeller has relied mostly on experience.

"There is enough quality in the squad to challenge even the greatest teams," said Voeller. "It's a mixture of experience and youth."

The three-times world and European champions have failed to shine lately but are proven tournament specialists and cannot be ruled out. They have been drawn with the Czech Republic, the Netherlands and Latvia in a tough Group D.

VfB Stuttgart's Timo Hildebrand won the battle to become the squad's third goalkeeper, behind Bayern Munich's Oliver Kahn and Jens Lehmann of Arsenal.

Voeller could not pick seasoned midfielder Carsten Ramelow after the Bayer Leverkusen player said last week he was retiring from international football.

Another notable absentee is Bayern midfielder Sebastian Deisler, who resumed playing only recently after being treated for depression.

Squad:

Goalkeepers: Oliver Kahn (Bayern Munich), Jens Lehmann (Arsenal, England), Timo Hildebrand (VfB Stuttgart)

Defenders: Frank Baumann (Werder Bremen), Arne Friedrich (Hertha Berlin), Andreas Hinkel (VfB Stuttgart), Philipp Lahm (VfB Stuttgart), Jens Nowotny (Bayer Leverkusen), Christian Woerns (Borussia Dortmund), Christian Rahn (Hamburg SV)

Midfielders: Michael Ballack (Bayern Munich), Fabian Ernst (Werder Bremen), Paul Freier (VfL Bochum), Torsten Frings (Borussia Dortmund), Dietmar Hamann (Liverpool, England), Jens Jeremies (Bayern Munich), Sebastian Kehl (Borussia Dortmund), Bernd Schneider (Bayer Leverkusen)

Strikers: Fredi Bobic (Hertha Berlin), Thomas Brdaric (Hanover 96), Kevin Kuranyi (VfB Stuttgart), Miroslav Klose (Kaiserslautern)

Patrick Vignal
Source:
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