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Loew Announces Provisional Germany Squad
Hamburg defender Dennis Aogo and Bayern Munich youngster Holger Badstuber are the surprise names in the provisional 27-man Germany squad for the World Cup.

Germany coach Joachim Low also revealed Bayern's Hans-Jorg Butt would be the third goalkeeper in his squad alongside Schalke's Manuel Neuer and Werder Bremen's Tim Wiese after number one Rene Adler was ruled out due to injury.

Lukas Podolski and Miroslav Klose, who have both had difficult seasons for their clubs, have also been included, but there was no place for Lazio midfielder Thomas Hitzlsperger, who was a key member of the squad which earned qualification over the last two years.

The 23-year-old Aogo makes the step-up from the Germany Under-21 squad and will rival his Hamburg team mate Marcell Jansen for a place in the final selection.

"Aogo has played for our Under-21s and has been playing with Hamburg in Europe,'' explained Low. "For us, the criteria are not that players have played lots of games for us, but that they have the potential and we could see his technical ability and that was the reason why we have decided to take him along with the 27 players.''

Badstuber also earns his first international call only nine months after making the first of eight appearances for the Under-21s, and his debut in the Bayern first team.

"Players like Badstuber and (Thomas) Muller have just played their first season, but you have got to compliment them on the way they have been able to perform so consistently well all season,'' said Low. "Badstuber is calm and has greatly improved tactically over the course of the year.''

Badstuber is one of seven players included from a Bayern squad expected to make certain of the Bundesliga title this weekend. Bayern are also in the finals of both the DFB-Pokal and Champions League and Low is hoping they can add a feelgood factor to the squad.

"It is also the same with (Michael) Ballack, who will play in the FA Cup final for Chelsea and for the Bremen players who are in the DFB-Pokal final,'' said Low. "It is good preparation for the World Cup as they remain with a lot of tension until the very last minute of the season so they won't lose their concentration.''

This could also give Butt the opportunity to overtake both Wiese and Neuer to become the nation's new number one.

"We would be delighted if Butt wins the next two titles, not just for him but for all of us as self-confidence would increase when coming into the tournament,'' added Low, who admitted the battle to take Adler's jersey is now wide open.

"We will sit down in the next week and announce that at the right moment,'' he explained before talking up the Bayern goalkeeper's chances.

"After the painful loss of Adler, we chose Butt. He has already been involved in a major tournament and has played excellent games this season.''

While Adler and his Bayer Leverkusen team-mate Simon Rolfes have had time to get used to the idea of missing out on the World Cup due to injury, the news was not so easy to take for several others who had hoped to be included.

Lazio midfielder Thomas Hitzlsperger has been a regular in the Germany squad since 2006, but his move to Serie A from Stuttgart in the winter has cost him his place in South Africa.

"It was not an easy choice for us,'' admitted Low, who called the former Aston Villa midfielder on Wednesday afternoon to deliver the bad news. "It was hard for us because Thomas Hitzlsperger has always been with us in recent years and has contributed to us qualifying.

"I told him in the winter that it was really important that he got match practice and to carefully consider which club he chose to move to, but it didn't work out for whatever reason.''

Low will have to disappoint four more players before he hands his final list of 23 players to FIFA early next month, but before that, he will get the chance to consider all of his options in the next few weeks, with friendly matches against Malta, Hungary and Bosnia-Herzegovina on the schedule.

"We have lots of young players without much international experience, but they have the quality and so it is not easy to say which four will go home,'' he said.

In addition, Low named five players who will be involved in next week's charity game against Malta in Aachen.

Due to the large number of players absent due to their involvement in cup finals, Low has called up Tobias Sippel, Mats Hummels, Kevin Grosskreutz, Stefan Reinartz and Marco Reus to make up the numbers, but all five will then leave the national team.

Goalkeepers: Hans-Jorg Butt, Manuel Neuer, Tim Wiese

Defenders: Per Mertesacker, Heiko Westermann, Philipp Lahm, Jerome Boateng, Andrea Beck, Arne Friedrich, Serdar Tasci, Marcell Jansen, Holger Badstuber, Dennis Aogo.

Midfielders: Michael Ballack, Sami Khedira, Piotr Trochowski, Marko Marin, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Christian Trasch, Mesut Ozil, Toni Kroos.

Forwards: Lukas Podolski, Miroslav Klose, Stefan Kiessling, Cacau, Thomas Muller, Mario Gomez.
 
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