Captain Bastian Schweinsteiger returns to Germany squad for 1st time since World Cup



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FRANKFURT, Germany — Germany has summoned Bastian Schweinsteiger for the first time since the World Cup final in a 23-man squad for a friendly against Australia and a European Championship qualifier in Georgia.

Also, defender Holger Badstuber is back after last playing for Germany in October 2012, and midfielder Ilkay Gundogan returns for the first time since August 2013. Both had long-lasting injuries.

Schweinsteiger was named captain when Philipp Lahm retired from the national team after Germany won the World Cup title in Brazil last July. But the Bayern Munich midfielder has yet to play as captain.

"Bastian is our captain, he has great leadership qualities," coach Joachim Loew said in announcing the squad on Friday. "We need him on the field and outside as well. It's a great benefit for us to have him back."

Loew retained 16 World Cup players, and named no newcomers.

Also included is Lukas Podolski, even though he's been out of form at Inter Milan.

Germany plays Australia in Kaiserslautern on Wednesday, and plays in Georgia on March 29. Germany trails Poland by three points in its group.


Germany:

Goalkeepers: Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich), Roman Weidenfeller (Borussia Dortmund), Ron-Robert Zieler (Hannover).

Defenders: Holger Badstuber (Bayern Munich), Jerome Boateng (Bayern Munich), Jonas Hector (Cologne), Benedikt Hoewedes (Schalke), Mats Hummels (Borussia Dortmund), Shkodran Mustafi (Valencia), Sebastian Rudy (Hoffenheim).

Midfielders: Karim Bellarabi (Bayer Leverkusen), Ilkay Gundogan (Borussia Dortmund), Sami Khedira (Real Madrid), Christoph Kramer (Borussia Moenchengladbach), Toni Kroos (Real Madrid), Thomas Mueller (Bayern Munich), Mesut Ozil (Arsenal), Lukas Podolski (Inter Milan), Marco Reus (Borussia Dortmund), Andre Schuerrle (Wolfsburg), Bastian Schweinsteiger (Bayern Munich).

Forwards: Mario Goetze (Bayern Munich), Max Kruse (Borussia Moenchengladbach).

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