Posted on Apr 25
Arsenal's Per Mertesacker has handed Germany coach Joachim Loew a pre-Euro 2012 boost by declaring himself fit for June's European Championships.
The 27-year-old centre-back has been out since damaging ankle ligaments in the Gunners' 2-1 Premier League win over Sunderland in February, but expects to be fully fit for Euro 2012 which starts on June 8.
Mertesacker said the injury, which allowed him to focus on his fitness, could have been a blessing in disguise.
"I hope so, and I think that by the time the Euro starts, I will have achieved a level of fitness like never before," Mertesacker told German magazine Sport-Bild.
"In the past, I have always missed out when it comes to getting the optimal preparation time.
"I haven't had to bend and twist to accomodate Arsenal to be fit for the Euro."
Meanwhile, Loew has said he expects Germany's rising stars Mario Goetze and Marco Reus to play a key role for him at Euro 2012.
Dortmund's Goetze, who turns 20 on June 3, and Moenchengladbach's Reus have been in superb form this season.
Attacking midfielder Reus, 22, has scored 16 goals to help Gladbach in their bid to qualify for a Champions League place.
Goetze has just returned after five months out injured, but impressed at the start of the season as Dortmund retained the Bundesliga title and he orchestrated Germany's 3-2 win over Brazil last August.
Both Reus, four appearances, and Goetze, who has scored two goals in 12 internationals, are relatively inexperienced, but Loew is backing them both.
"I believe that both of them will play more than just a role off the bench for us at the Euro," he said.
"Marco Reus hasn't played for the national team so often, but for me he is one of the success stories of the season.
"Goetze has also been involved for perhaps a year, but he plays as if he has always been a part of the team."
Loew will name his squad for Euro 2012 on Monday May 7 and said only "four or five" positions are still up for grabs.
Germany are in Group B alongside the Netherlands, Portugal and Denmark and along with defending champions Spain, Loew says Italy and France will be dark horses for Euro 2012 which runs until July 1.