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Germany's Pavlovic ill again, Füllkrug dismisses injury speculation

Germany's Niclas Fuellkrug takes part in a press conference, as part of preparations for UEFA EURO 2024. Federico Gambarini/dpa
Germany's Niclas Fuellkrug takes part in a press conference, as part of preparations for UEFA EURO 2024. Federico Gambarini/dpa

Germany started final preparations for Friday's Euro 2024 opener against Scotland without youngster Aleksandar Pavlovic on Monday while striker Niclas Füllkrug dismissed injury speculation.

Bayern Munich's Pavlovic did not return to the base camp after a weekend off for the players due to a infection, officials said.

The illness comes at the worst possible time for the midfielder who had missed his first call-up in March due to tonsillitis but won his maiden cap last week against Ukraine. Pavlovic said he was considering having his tonsils removed in summer.

Füllkrug puzzled over alleged injury

Füllkrug's fitness had meanwhile been questioned after he played as a substitute in Friday's 2-1 victory over Greece.

He said on Monday he had "frighteningly received a few messages" at the weekend that he had knee problems.

"I'm fine, I don't know where it's coming from. At 31, there's always a niggle somewhere," the Borussia Dortmund player said.

Füllkrug backs Havertz and Neuer

Füllkrug, who has 11 goals from 16 caps, said he has to accept his role as back-up for Arsenal's Kai Havertz who has his "maximum support" as preferred forward of coach Julian Nagelsmann.

"I'm more of an employee. The coach has the upper hand," he said.

Füllkrug added that the whole team is behind first choice goalkeeper Manuel Neuer despite some recent mistakes that sparked a debate whether Marc Andre ter Stegen wouldn't be the better choice.

"We have a clear hierarchy in the team. We are spoiled in the goalkeeper position. Manu gives every team incredible support. We are all totally behind him," Füllkrug said.

Vogts and Köpke support Neuer decision

Nagelsmann named Neuer first choice in March and will not change his mind, a decision also welcomed by former Germany coach Berti Vogts and ex-goalkeeper Andreas Köpke.

Köpke told dpa that Nagelsmann "must stick to his decision" because "a goalkeeper also needs some security."

Vogts added: "The defenders are used to playing with Manu. It is very important that there is a certain order in defence. It speaks for the coach that he is giving Manu this trust."

Vogts and Köpke were speaking at a reunion of the team that won the third and so far last Euro title in 1996, an event also attended by Jürgen Klinsmann who captained that team before coaching Germany to the semi-finals at the last home event, the 2006 World Cup.

Klinsmann names good start a key

"You need three points at the start to lift the atmosphere," Klinsmann said.

He added that once a euphoria has been created, like in 2006, "everything is possible," as he named Germany among the favourites despite flops at previous big events.

Germany's other group stage opponents are Hungary and Switzerland.

Füllkrug in the middle of fans even before open training

Nagelsmann's team was to present itself to the fans in an open training later on Monday, while Füllkrug already found himself right among them when he travelled back to the base camp by train the previous day.

Füllkrug said that due to the notorious delays and cancellations of rail service Deutsche Bahn, who are a Euro sponsor, he travelled in a packed train together with a group of youngsters on a high school graduation trip who would now fully support the team.

"I sat in a social circle and did a little Q&A game with the guys. It was funny, it was fun. The time went by faster than I thought," Füllkrug said.

"They were good lads who were very polite. They're now going on a nice graduation trip."

Germany's Niclas Fuellkrug takes part in a press conference, as part of preparations for UEFA EURO 2024. Christian Charisius/dpa
Germany's Niclas Fuellkrug takes part in a press conference, as part of preparations for UEFA EURO 2024. Christian Charisius/dpa