Manuel Neuer has been named in Germany’s preliminary 27-man squad for the FIFA 2018 World Cup.

The Bayern Munich goalkeeper and Germany captain makes the grade, despite only returning to first-team training a week ago following a lengthy absence.

Neuer, 32, has not played since suffering his second metatarsal break in six months in the 4-0 win over Mainz on 16 September 2017.

In flying form since making his own comeback from an ankle ligament tear in February, Marco Reus is also included.

The Borussia Dortmund attacker, 28, missed Germany’s last two major tournaments through injury, but ended the 2017/18 Bundesliga campaign with seven goals in 11 appearances.

Uncapped striker Nils Petersen, reward for his 15-goal season with Freiburg, and Bayer Leverkusen duo Jonathan Tah and Julian Brandt are surprise inclusions.

Dortmund’s Mario Götze, scorer of the winning goal against Argentina in the 2014 World Cup final, and Bayern striker Sandro Wagner miss out.

Head coach Joachim Löw has until 4 June to submit his final 23-man squad to FIFA.

Germany are hoping to become the first team since Brazil in 1962 to win back-to-back World Cups.

Preliminary 27-man squad

Goalkeepers: Bernd Leno (Bayer Leverkusen), Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich), Marc-Andre ter Stegen (Barcelona), Kevin Trapp (Paris Saint-Germain)

Defenders: Jerome Boateng (Bayern), Jonas Hector (Cologne), Matthias Ginter (Borussia Mönchengladbach), Mats Hummels (Bayern), Joshua Kimmich (Bayern), Marvin Plattenhardt (Hertha Berlin), Antonio Rüdiger (Chelsea), Niklas Süle (Bayern), Jonathan Tah (Bayer Leverkusen)

Midfielders: Julian Brandt (Leverkusen), Julian Draxler (PSG), Leon Goretzka (Schalke), Ilkay Gündogan (Manchester City), Sami Khedira (Juventus), Toni Kroos (Real Madrid), Mesut Özil (Arsenal), Sebastian Rudy (Bayern)

Forwards: Mario Gomez (VfB Stuttgart), Thomas Müller (Bayern), Nils Petersen (Freiburg) Marco Reus (Borussia Dortmund), Leroy Sane (Man City), Timo Werner (RB Leipzig)

Quiz: Who would YOU start if you were Joachim Löw?

Germany at the FIFA World Cup in Russia

How they got there

World champions Germany qualified for the finals in fine style, with a perfect 10 wins from 10 in UEFA qualifying Group C, becoming just the second team in history to manage that feat after Spain in 2010. No fewer than 21 players found the target in a serene campaign in which Die Mannschaft scored some 43 goals, with Bayern Munich duo Thomas Müller and Sandro Wagner heading the charts on five apiece.

No active player has scored more than Thomas Müller’s 10 goals at FIFA World Cup finals tournaments. © gettyimages / Alex Grimm/

Star man: Manuel Neuer

He hasn’t played since September because of a second metatarsal fracture, but Neuer – nearing a return to first-team action – is one player worth gambling on. The Bayern and Germany No.1 has rewritten the goalkeeper’s handbook in recent years, and adds a layer of watertight security to the last line of defence other nations can only dream of. The best of his generation, the best of all time – the World Cup would not be the same without him.

Watch: Manuel Neuer’s Top 5 saves!

One to watch: Timo Werner

If Neuer is the seasoned veteran Germany cannot do without, Werner is the young buck set to take the football world by storm. The 22-year-old was playing for the U19s four years ago, but a whirlwind ripening process has catapulted him to the front of the senior pecking order. The RB Leipzig man has hit double figures in each of his last two Bundesliga seasons, joint-top scored at the 2017 Confederations Cup and has seven goals in just 12 internationals. Who said Germany wouldn’t be able to replace record marksman Miroslav Klose…?

Timo Werner is likely to be Germany’s first-choice striker in Russia after amassing seven goals in 12 international appearances to date. © gettyimages / Matthias Hangst

Fixtures

Pre-tournament friendlies

Austria (2 June, 9 PM CEST, Worthersee Stadion, Klagenfurt, Austria)
Saudi Arabia (8 June, 7:30 PM CEST, BayArena, Leverkusen, Germany)

FIFA 2018 World Cup Group F

Mexico (17 June, 5 PM CEST, Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow)

Germany beat Mexico 4-1 on the way to their 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup triumph, with Leon Goretzka, Lars Stindl and Timo Werner (l-r.) top scoring with four goals apiece in Russia. © imago / Fotoarena

Sweden (23 June, 8 PM CEST, Fisht Olympic Stadium, Sochi)

Jerome Boateng (l.) and Manuel Neuer (r.) played the last time Germany faced Sweden – a 5-3 win in qualifying for the 2014 FIFA World Cup back in October 2013. © imago / Eibner

South Korea (27 June, 4 PM CEST, Kazan Arena, Kazan)

Julian Brandt helped steer Germany to a 3-3 draw against South Korea at the Rio 2016 Olympics, in which Germany won the silver medal. © imago / Fotoarena

Click here to read about the sheer depth of Germany’s options!


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