Penpix of Germany squad

BERLIN, May 19 (Reuters) - Penpix of Germany's preliminary squad for the World Cup in South Africa:

Manuel Neuer (Schalke 04). Goalkeeper. Born March 27 1986. Caps 3. Goals 0.

Considered the biggest goalkeeping talent in Germany, Neuer is expected to attract several major clubs during the next transfer window. Strong and confident but makes occasional misjudgements when venturing out of goal. Lacks international experience.

Tim Wiese (Werder Bremen). Goalkeeper. Born Dec. 17 1981. Caps 2. Goals 0.

Arguably at just the right age for a goalkeeper, Wiese has been consistently good in the past two seasons and should get the starting spot in the absence of injured Rene Adler. It is surprising that he has not won more than two caps.

Hans-Joerg Butt (Bayern Munich). Goalkeeper. Born May 28 1974. Caps 3. Goals 0.

Veteran Butt is enjoying a prolonged Indian summer and bidding for a starting spot after a spectacular season with Bayern Munich. The 35-year-old was a last-minute call-up in place of Adler but coach Joachim Loew refused to say whether he would be a third-choice keeper as was initially expected. Has the most experience of all German keepers, having been a reserve during the 2002 World Cup. Played in the 2002 Champions League final with Bayer Leverkusen. Very focused on the pitch and a calm character.

Andreas Beck (Hoffenheim). Defender. Born March 13 1987. Caps 7. Goals 0.

The young right back, whose interest in literature and quiet lifestyle goes against the stereotypical footballer, won all his caps in 2009, after a stunning first season with Hoffenheim. However, his team's mediocre season and a personal dip in form have seen him struggling and he could be among those cut ahead of June's final squad announcement.

Arne Friedrich (Hertha Berlin). Defender. Born May 29 1979. Caps 70. Goals 0.

Among a select group of veterans in the squad, Friedrich is hoping to remain a first choice despite a poor season with Hertha Berlin. Expected to leave his club at the end of the season, with Hertha relegated, and the World Cup could prove the right place to showcase his strong defensive skills. A hard tackler who makes up for his lack of speed with abundant passion.

Per Mertesacker (Werder Bremen). Defender. Born Sept. 29 1984. Caps 60. Goals 1.

Once a regular starter in central defence, the slow Mertesacker has found it hard going in recent seasons. Still, has enjoyed success with Werder Bremen, making the German Cup final this year. Likes to push forward and score.

Heiko Westermann (Schalke 04). Defender. Born Aug. 14 1983. Caps 18. Goals 2.

Westermann has had a mixed season for Schalke, concentrating on his central defensive duties, but he likes venturing forward, possesses a powerful shot and is strong in the air.

Jerome Boateng (Hamburg SV). Defender. Born Sept. 3 1988. Caps 4. Goals 0.

An exciting and powerful defender, Boateng is expected to leave Hamburg at the end of the season with major European clubs interested in him. He became the first German to be red-carded on his international debut, in October last year. His older brother Kevin-Prince is in Ghana's World Cup squad after the West African country got FIFA's permission to include him.

Philipp Lahm (Bayern Munich). Defender. Born Nov. 11 1983. Caps 64. Goals 3.

The diminutive defender (1.70 metres) has had another exceptional season at Bayern. Usually plays on the right side but can switch flanks. Possesses good skill and a lethal curled shot from the edge of the box.

Serdar Tasci (vfB Stuttgart). Defender. Born April 24 1987. Caps 11. Goals 0.

Among a younger generation of defenders, Tasci has quickly developed into a leadership figure at his club despite a recent dip in form. Briefly left on the bench towards the end of the season, Tasci has bounced back with solid performances.

Marcell Jansen (Hamburg SV). Defender. Born Nov. 4 1985. Caps 30. Goals 2.

The Hamburg winger could just make it into the squad after suffering a serious ankle injury towards the end of the season which briefly put his hopes in doubt. A speedy recovery after only four weeks has put the experienced Jansen back in contention.

Holger Badstuber (Bayern Munich). Defender. Born March 13 1989. Caps 0. Goals 0.

One of several Bayern players in the preliminary squad. Has enjoyed the same meteoric rise this season as team mate Thomas Mueller, both a product of Bayern's youth teams. Badstuber is a solid defender with a fierce left foot. Clean yet hard-tackling, Badstuber rarely ventures forward. Enjoys taking the occasional set piece mainly from the right side and has scored from long range.

Dennis Aogo (Hamburg SV). Defender. Born Nov. 14 1987. Caps 1. Goals 0.

The hard-working, versatile defender opted to play for Germany instead of Nigeria, birthplace of his father, this year. Enjoyed success last year with the U-21 team, winning the European championship, year but his spot in the World Cup squad is uncertain. Enjoys playing on the left side and he can also be used as a defensive midfielder or even as a full back.

Christian Traesch (VfB Stuttgart). Midfielder. Sept. 1 1987. Caps 2. Goals 0.

The speedy defender could not have made a worse start to the season when he broke his wrists. He quickly recovered to fight back into contention with an inspired second half of the campaign for Stuttgart.

Sami Khedira (VfB Stuttgart). Midfielder. Born April 4 1987. Caps 3. Goals 0.

Another young player who has made his debut under coach Loew, Khedira's hopes of making the World Cup looked slim when he partially tore the cruciate ligament in his left knee late in March. Just 16 days later he was declared fit and is expected to make a late surge for a World Cup spot. Renowned for his never-say-die attitude and attacking instinct.

Toni Kroos (Bayer Leverkusen). Midfielder. Born Jan. 4 1990. Caps 2. Goals 0.

It has been a sensational year for playmaker Kroos, steering Bayer Leverkusen in an exciting title race and being rewarded with his first cap for Germany. Kroos is a versatile and intelligent player, capable of slicing open any defence with spectacular passes but equally able to score from long range and set pieces.

Bastian Schweinsteiger (Bayern Munich). Midfielder. Born Aug. 1 1984. Caps 73. Goals 19.

A fixture in Germany's central midfield, Schweinsteiger has long established himself as a first-choice player despite his youth. Quick and powerful, Schweinsteiger can turn a game single-handedly but also has some very quiet games.

Marko Marin (Werder Bremen). Midfielder. Born March 13 1989. Caps 7. Goals 1.

Narrowly missed the cut for the Euro 2008 squad but the creative midfielder with a brilliant first touch looks set to travel to South Africa. Has had an outstanding first season at Bremen, combining well with Mesut Ozil.

Mesut Ozil (Werder Bremen). Midfielder. Born Oct. 15 1988. Caps 8. Goals 1.

With Brazilian Diego's departure, Ozil, of Turkish descent, blossomed into a remarkable midfielder, capable of taking opponents' defences apart with his pinpoint passing, lightning-quick dribbling and power. Ozil opted to play for Germany despite repeated attempts by Turkey to lure him.

Piotr Trochowski (Hamburger SV). Midfielder. Born March 22 1984. Caps 29. Goals 2.

Could not have wished for a worse season than this year as he has battled for a starting spot at his club. The Poland-born attacking midfielder/winger has dropped down Loew's pecking order but his lethal right foot and skilful dribbling are still a threat.

Thomas Mueller (Bayern Munich). Forward. Born Sept. 13 1989. Caps 1. Goals 0.

The 20-year-old has been a revelation for Bayern under coach Louis van Gaal this season. A hard-working attacking midfielder, Mueller is as comfortable playing in attack as he is creating plays from the edge of the box. Mueller, a product of Bayern's youth academy, can score with long-range shots as well as slipping into the centre forward role.

Miroslav Klose (Bayern Munich). Forward. Born June 9 1978. Caps 94. Goals 48. A first-choice striker for years, Klose has scored more than a goal every second match for Germany. But he has had a disastrous season, plagued by injury and a huge dip in form, and has netted only two goals. However it would be a surprise if he did not start for Germany with his experience a vital asset.

Lukas Podolski (Cologne). Forward. Born June 4 1985. Caps 71. Goals 37.

Hugely successful with the national team where he blossoms into a completely different player than in club football, impressing with his remarkable range of skills. From feeding fellow strikers as an attacking midfielder or even winger on the left side to scoring with his lethal left foot, Podolski thrives on the big stage.

His move from Bayern to former club Cologne last year did not do him any good on the pitch and he has scored a disappointing two goals this season.

Mario Gomez (Bayern Munich). Forward. Born July 10 1985. Caps 32. Goals 11.

Has yet to impress for Germany at a major tournament, failing to score at Euro 2008. The 24-year-old striker broke a 14-month goal drought for the national team last June.

He became the most expensive Bundesliga transfer in history when he switched to Bayern from VfB Stuttgart for a reported fee of more than 30 million euros last year but can expect to start on the bench behind Podolski and Klose.

Stefan Kiessling (Bayer Leverkusen). Forward. Born Jan. 25 1984. Caps 4. Goals 0.

Enjoyed a breakthrough season with Bayer Leverkusen, scoring 18 times. The tall striker is a coach's dream, capable of scoring from a distance, with powerful headers or from close range, as well as kickstarting lightning-fast counter attacks. On a good day the fair-playing Kiessling is a joy to watch and an opponent's nightmare.

Cacau (VfB Stuttgart). Forward. Born March 27 1981. Caps 6. Goals 2.

The Brazilian, who last year obtained German citizenship, will have to sweat it out until the final squad announcement to see whether he will make his first World Cup appearance.

Quick and armed with a thundering shot, Cacau has been crucial in lifting Stuttgart from the relegation zone in the early part of the season to European contenders.

(Editing by Ed Osmond; to query or comment on this story email