Soccer-Mertesacker, Schweinsteiger on sidelines at training


By Erik Kirschbaum

SANTO ANDRE, Brazil, July 5 (Reuters) - Germany's Per Mertesacker, suffering with a slight bout of flu, was the only player in the squad not taking part in a light training session on Saturday at their World Cup base in northeastern Brazil.

Bastian Schweinsteiger, who coach Joachim Loew had indicated might be exhausted after playing the last three matches, was not involved in drills on the pitch with his team mates and instead worked out on an exercise bike in the shade.

"It's a precautionary measure with Per," said Germany spokesman Jens Grittner of the centre back after the team reached the semi-finals for the fourth straight World Cup with a 1-0 victory over France in Rio de Janeiro on Friday.

"It's a slight flu and nothing serious. Otherwise all the players are fit and out here training," he said, pointing to the sun-baked pitch near the Atlantic ocean beaches where Germany are preparing for Tuesday's semi-final against hosts Brazil.

Loew had said before Friday's match that seven players had been suffering from sore throats and a slight fever but did not name them. Mertesacker, 29, did not play against France after starting Germany's first four matches at the World Cup.

After the game, Loew said midfielder Schweinsteiger, who had returned from injury just before the finals began, might need a break after playing most of the three previous matches.

"For Schweinsteiger it was his third straight match plus the extra time against Algeria," said Loew, referring to their 2-1 last-16 win on Monday in which Schweinsteiger nearly collapsed from exhaustion late in extra time and had to be replaced.

"We need players who are fresh and recovered," Loew said after Friday's match when asked if Schweinsteiger and Sami Khedira would again share the defensive midfield duties against Brazil. "Khedira and Schweinsteiger both went to their limits."

But Grittner said Schweinsteiger, 29, was not working out alone because he was exhausted but as part of his own programme.

"It's normal in a long tournament like this that some of the players will structure their own individual training and work out accordingly," he said. "He's doing individual fitness training today. It's just a relaxed regeneration session today.

"He's got his strength back and that's been demonstrated by fact that he's started the last three matches," Grittner said. (Reporting by Erik Kirschbaum; editing by Ken Ferris)

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