Bernd Leno has withdrawn from the Germany squad for the upcoming European qualifiers against Belarus and Estonia. The Arsenal goalkeeper has been carrying a thumb ligament injury for a number of weeks and will rest up. FC Bayern München’s Sven Ulreich has been called up in Leno’s stead, making his first appearance in a Die Mannschaft squad.
“Sven deserves this call-up,” said Germany goalkeeping coach Andreas Köpke. “When FC Bayern have needed him this season, he’s turned up and put in great performances. That’s a great quality to have.” Köpke also discussed Leno’s situation: “I knew that Bernd has had some problems with his hand in recent weeks. He’s going to start wearing a brace for his thumb, so we won’t be able to use him in these internationals.”
With Joachim Löw out of action following a sporting accident, Marcus Sorg and Andreas Köpke will be leading the team for the upcoming games. There will also be a new face among the coaching staff though, with Antonio di Salvo set to help the pair out. Usually part of Stefan Kuntz’s U21s coaching staff, di Salvo will support Sorg and Köpke against Belarus and Estonia, before returning to the U21s setup as they prepare for the European Championship in South Tyrol.
Sorg and di Salvo have already teamed up before, with the duo coaching the U19s between 2013 and 2016, leading them to the European Championship title in 2014. “I’ve known Toni for a long time and I’m very grateful to Stefan Kuntz that he has allowed him to help us out,” said Marcus Sorg.
“We will do everything we can do have success in these fixtures without Jogi,” said national teams and academy director Oliver Bierhoff. “We’re in regular telephone contact with him. He is doing well and of course him returning to full health is our major concern. Just like players being called up to the squad, it’s a huge motivation for Toni to work with the senior team. We owe thanks to Stefan Kuntz, who was immediately on board with the idea, even though the U21s are preparing for a European Championship.”