Sami Khedira claims it does not matter who captains Germany at Euro 2016 as regular skipper Bastian Schweinsteiger battles to prove his fitness.
Khedira wore the armband as Die Mannschaft surprisingly lost a friendly 3-1 to Slovakia last Sunday.
Manchester United midfielder Schweinsteiger has spent much of 2016 on the sidelines with a knee ligament injury and appears unlikely to start when Germany’s European Championship campaign begins with a match against Ukraine in Lille next weekend.
But Khedira has sought to play down questions about on-field leadership, insisting the 31-year-old former Bayern Munich star will remain the squad’s figurehead.
“I’m getting tired of questions about the captaincy,” he said.
“Bastian is our captain. It doesn’t change anything if I wear the captain’s armband or not. Obviously it’s an honour to captain the German national team.
“Basti is very focused and he left a good impression in his first training match. He still has a few days. We are all very glad to have him on board with us.”
Should Schweinsteiger fail to convince Joachim Low of his fitness, the Germany coach will still have some enviable options at his disposal, with Toni Kroos and Mesut Ozil, as well as impressive newcomers Julian Weigl and Joshua Kimmich, among those vying for a place at the heart of the team.
“I played in defensive midfield in Augsburg, but at Juventus I played slightly more attacking,” Khedira said.
“With Bastian, Toni or Mesut and also with Joshua Kimmich and Julian Weigl, who’ve made a great impression here with us, we have a lot of options for this position as basically any of these players can play in midfield.”
Khedira knows from the experience of winning the last World Cup in Brazil that Germany will face a challenge breaking down some stubborn opponents in France, but it is a task Low’s team are ready to confront.
“Like in 2014, we simply have to accept the terms that we are facing,” he said.
“Our group opponents, the Ukraine, Poland and Northern Ireland, will all try to catch us on the wrong foot. We can’t complain even if our opponents play defensive with all eleven players [behind the ball].
“We know that there is a lot of hard work left to be done and that we will face a headwind at times. We are not dreamers, but we are thinking positively ahead of this tournament. Our work in training is extremely focused.”
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