Germany to burn midnight oil over final squad

BERLIN - Germany will leave it until the last minute to decide which player will be cut from their final 23-man World Cup squad, team manager Oliver Bierhoff said on Tuesday.

Germany's 27-man preliminary squad has been reduced to just 24 players after captain Michael Ballack, midfielder Christian Traesch and defender Heiko Westermann were ruled out with injuries.

Defender Andreas Beck or one of the six strikers have been identified as the most likely candidate to be chopped from the squad heading for South Africa for the June 11-July 11 finals.

"The deadline by (world football's governing body) FIFA is tonight at midnight and we will use the time until then to decide and hand in our list," Bierhoff told reporters at their training camp in northern Italy.

"We want to have the time to inform the player calmly after the last training. That will take place in the evening," he said.

Coach Joachim Low has called the decision to drop just one player "brutal".

"This decision is indeed very difficult because simply you are sending home a player who had hopes of playing in the tournament and always dreamed of the World Cup," Bierhoff said.

Germany have been drawn alongside Serbia, Australia and Ghana in Group D.

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