Antonio Di Salvo has had to make several changes to his U21 squad ahead of European Championship qualifiers against Latvia (25th March, 18:15 CET) and Israel (29th March, 17:00 CEST). Malick Thiaw (FC Schalke 04) and Reda Khadra (Blackburn Rovers) are out for the whole international break due to injury, whilst Luca Philipp, Armel Bella Kotchap and Patrick Osterhage all miss out due to illness. Six further players are also doubtful for the matches, so head coach Di Salvo has nominated Faride Alidou (Hamburger SV), Marton Dardai (Hertha BSC), Shinta Appelkamp (Fortuna Düsseldorf) and Vincent Müller (PSV Eindhoven) to join the side in their place.
“Right now I’m hoping that all the lads who are missing right now recover quickly,” said Di Salvo. “We were prepared to have to react to missing players and nominated a larger squad as a result. Shinta Appelkamp and Marton Dardai know the team well and will integrate into the squad well, as will Faride Alidou and Vincent Müller. From now, we’ll be concentrating fully on our work in training and on the players who are with us. We’ve got a strong team here,” he added.
“We are very much looking forward to the two upcoming international fixtures, and we’ll be approaching the games with changes in some positions,” said Di Salvo. “We have named a large squad so we can react to any short-term problems that may occur due to the ongoing pandemic. This also gives us all the chance to get to know each other. The new additions will be well integrated into the squad and we are eager to see how they perform with us. With regards to Kevin Schade, we are in communication with SC Freiburg. We will wait to see what happens with his injury and we hope he can play a part in these international fixtures.”
The first Under-21s international of the year will take place at Alemannia Aachen’s Tivoli, a ground they last visited in 2009. “Alemannia Aachen is a traditional club with fans who love their football and we can’t wait to play in front of them,” said Di Salvo ahead of the home game against Latvia on 25th March.
It remains to be seen whether the currently-injured Kevin Schade (SC Freiburg), Angelo Stiller (TSG Hoffenheim), Frederik Jäkel (KV Ostende), Malik Tillman (FC Bayern München), Luca Netz and Jordan Beyer (both Borussia Mönchengladbach) will be able to make appearances in either of the games. Di Salvo and his coaching team are in discussions with the players’ respective clubs and will decide if a late arrival makes sense for any of them on a player-by-player basis.
Four days later, the team will travel to Petach Tikwa for a showdown against Israel, who are currently second in Group B, and only behind Germany on goal difference. Both teams are sat on 15 points, two ahead of third-placed Poland. Hungary are fourth on seven points, Latvia fifth with three, and San Marino are rock-bottom without a single point. The teams below Poland are now out of the running to qualify for next year’s European Championship in Romania and Georgia. The nine group winners, the best second-placed team and the two hosts will qualify directly for the tournament. The eight remaining second-placed teams will enter play-offs, with the four winners qualifying for the tournament.
“We have a clear target and that is to qualify as group winners. Therefore we want to increase our lead at the top of the group in the March internationals,” said Di Salvo.###more###