Selecting his squad for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar comes near a nail-biting puzzle for German coach Hansi Flick.
With roughly two weeks to go until the 57-year-old will announce the 26 players on November 10, Flick is facing several doubtful cases among key figures.
Uncertainties around team cornerstones such as Dortmund striker Marco Reus and Bayern's Manuel Neuer and Thomas Muller come along with doubts if the German defense can do without Mats Hummels.
While Neuer and Reus suffer from injuries and remain side-lined in their club teams, Muller is facing what the Bayern striker called the "on-and-off modus I am not used to."
After recovering from a Covid-19 infection, the 33-year-old has to deal with back pain while the reasons for the injury remain in the dark, reports Xinhua.
"I am used to my body working well, this wasn't the case over the past weeks; therefore, I am far from happy," Muller said.
Flick called the Bayern forward "the team leader as he can read the game and conduct our game."
Regarding Hummels, Flick is talking about stand-by modus. The 33-year-old played his last game in the German shirt in June 2021 when Germany was beaten by England at the 2020 UEFA Euro in the last 16.
Hummels, who is lately enjoying a significant performance upswing, and Flick are reportedly in close contact.
Reus turned up in the headlines after having to skip several attempts to return to regular training in Dortmund, while Neuer is trying to get rid of a painful shoulder injury, the Bayern keeper can't get under control entirely.
Flick announced the appointment of "four goalkeepers to be prepared for all possible situations."
While the German coach demands "fully fit players," he might wait for a youngster such as Leverkusen midfielder Florian Wirtz, who is currently recovering from a knee injury.
"Aside from the World Cup, we all are excitingly looking forward to, we have to keep the 2024 Euro in Germany in mind," the 2014 world champion said.
Flick called it inevitable to create an axis of reliable players leading the team, as "we have to make up for the disappointing performance in recent tournaments."
Germany is facing Japan in their World Cup opener on November 23, followed by the group encounters against Spain four days later and Costa Rica on December 1.
The 2020 treble winner is considering appointing Bremen to spearhead Niklas Fullkrug "as he stands for what we don't have in the team at present." The 29-year-old is a traditional box striker currently riding the wave in the national league, having scored eight goals in 11 games.
Germany are attending a pre-tournament training camp in Oman from November 14 to 18, including a test match against Oman on November 16.