Soccer-Germany drop Volland, Schmelzer, Mustafi from World Cup squad


* Klose is only striker in German squad

* Schmelzer pays price for nagging knee injury (Adds details, quotes)

By Karolos Grohmann

BERLIN, June 2 (Reuters) - Germany will travel to this month's World Cup in Brazil with only one out-and-out striker to end their 18-year wait for an international title after coach Joachim Loew cut Kevin Volland from his final 23-man squad on Monday.

Hoffenheim forward Volland joined defender Shkodran Mustafi and left back Marcel Schmelzer, still nursing a knee injury, as the three players left out of the final squad after being included in a provisional selection for a training camp in Italy.

"Obviously Shkodran, Marcel and Kevin are very disappointed and I an understand that because they had every right to hope they would be in Brazil," Loew told reporters.

"All three are players who still have the chance to take part in several big tournaments in their careers."

Volland's exclusion came as a surprise given the stocky striker's physical strength and all-round play were seen as a good alternative to veteran forward Miroslav Klose, who will be 36 next week.

Attacking midfielder Mario Goetze played as a striker in the 2-2 warmup draw against Cameroon on Sunday and that position can also be filled by Thomas Mueller, on target in that game.

Loew included Borussia Dortmund's Erik Durm, who can play as left back, in the final squad after he won praise following his first cap on Sunday while also sticking with youngsters Julian Draxler and Matthias Ginter as well as midfielder Chrstioph Kramer, who won his first two caps in the past weeks.

The coach, in charge of Germany for the fourth tournament, also kept faith in first-choice keeper Manuel Neuer and captain Philipp Lahm, both of whom are racing to get fit following injuries.

Playmaker Bastian Schweinsteiger, also working on his fitness following several injuries this season, made the squad in a talented midfield that also includes Marco Reus, Mesut Ozil, Lukas Podolski and Toni Kroos.

"I am 100 percent convinced of all the players' abilities. We have the right mix of many young and hugely talented players and players with a lot of tournament experience who know what it is all about," Loew said.

Little-known Mustafi of Sampdoria, a surprise call-up in the provisional squad, made way for a more experienced backline, with Jerome Boateng, Mats Hummels, Benedikt Hoewedes, Per Mertesacker and Kevin Grosskreutz.

Borussia Dortmund's Schmelzer paid the price for missing too much training in their Italian training camp due to his injury.

Germany, who won the World Cup as West Germany on three occasions, hope to clinch their first silverware since Euro 96.

"It is a balanced squad and with two players available for every position," Loew said.

"Our players have character and the team has character. We will travel with this squad to Brazil with a lot of confidence because we have set big targets."

Germany take on Ghana, United States and Portugal in World Cup Group G.


Goalkeepers: Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich), Roman Weidenfeller (Borussia Dortmund), Ron-Robert Zieler (Hanover 96)

Defenders: Jerome Boateng (Bayern Munich), Kevin Grosskreutz (Borussia Dortmund), Erik Durm (Borussia Dortmund), Benedikt Hoewedes (Schalke 04), Mats Hummels (Borussia Dortmund), Per Mertesacker (Arsenal), Philipp Lahm (Bayern Munich)

Midfielders: Julian Draxler (Schalke 04), Matthias Ginter (Freiburg), Mario Goetze (Bayern Munich), Christoph Kramer (Borussia Moenchengladbach), Sami Khedira (Real Madrid), Toni Kroos (Bayern Munich), Thomas Mueller (Bayern Munich), Mesut Ozil (Arsenal), Lukas Podolski (Arsenal), Marco Reus (Borussia Dortmund), Andre Schuerrle (Chelsea), Bastian Schweinsteiger (Bayern Munich)

Forwards: Miroslav Klose (Lazio)

(Editing by Ed Osmond)

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