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Nagelsmann makes big changes to Germany squad as Euro 2024 nears

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Germany coach Julian Nagelsmann on Thursday announced a much changed 26-man squad for the upcoming March friendlies, three months out from the country hosting Euro 2024.

The 36-year-old brought back 2014 World Cup winners Manuel Neuer and Toni Kroos, leaving out 11 of the players he selected in his previous squad last November.

Nagelsmann's side face France in Lyon on March 23 and the Netherlands in Frankfurt three days later.

Germany open the Euros on June 14 against Scotland in Munich.

Germany have struggled in the lead-up to the tournament.

The three-time European champions won just three of 11 games in 2023 on the back of a group-stage exit at the 2022 Qatar World Cup, a run which saw Hansi Flick become the first coach in Germany history to be sacked.

Several established players have been left out, including Leon Goretzka, Serge Gnabry, Mats Hummels and Niklas Sule, while Leroy Sane has not been named due to suspension.

Opting for form rather than reputation, Nagelsmann named six newcomers including three from this season's big improvers Stuttgart -- Deniz Undav, Maximilian Mittelstadt and Waldemar Anton.

Chris Fuhrich, who was called up for the first time earlier this season, has also been selected from Stuttgart, who narrowly avoided relegation last campaign but sit comfortably in third this season.

Jan-Niklas Beste from promoted Heidenheim, Bayern teenager Aleksandar Pavlovic and Hoffenheim forward Maximilian Beier have also been included for the first time.

Munich-born Pavlovic, included at the expense of teammate Goretzka, was also eligible for Serbia through his father.

Kroos is one of three 2014 World Cup winners to be included in the squad alongside Neuer and Thomas Muller.

Neuer returns to the squad for the first time in 15 months, having last played for Germany in Qatar before missing close to a year with a broken leg.

Barcelona midfielder Ilkay Gundogan will retain the captain's armband despite the 37-year-old Neuer's return.

Kroos last played for Germany in July 2021. In February, the Real Madrid star announced he would come out of international retirement ahead of the Euros.

The squad included just one Borussia Dortmund player, striker Niclas Fullkrug, with Hummels, Sule, Julian Brandt, Karim Adeyemi and Nico Schlotterbeck missing out.

Five Bayern players have been selected, alongside three from Bundesliga leaders Bayer Leverkusen.

Germany squad

Goalkeepers: Oliver Baumann (Hoffenheim), Bernd Leno (Fulham, England), Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich), Marc-Andre ter Stegen (Barcelona, Spain)

Defenders: Waldemar Anton (Stuttgart), Benjamin Henrichs (RB Leipzig), Joshua Kimmich (Bayern Munich), Robin Koch (Eintracht Frankfurt), Maximilian Mittelstadt (Stuttgart), David Raum (RB Leipzig), Antonio Rudiger (Real Madrid, Spain), Jonathan Tah (Bayer Leverkusen)

Midfielders: Robert Andrich (Bayer Leverkusen), Jan Niklas-Beste (Heidenheim), Chris Fuhrich (Stuttgart), Pascal Gross (Brighton & Hove Albion, England), Ilkay Gundogan (Barcelona, Spain), Toni Kroos (Real Madrid, Spain), Jamal Musiala (Bayern Munich), Aleksandar Pavlovic (Bayern Munich), Florian Wirtz (Bayer Leverkusen)

Forwards: Maximilian Beier (Hoffenheim), Niclas Fullkrug (Borussia Dortmund), Kai Havertz (Arsenal, England), Thomas Muller (Bayern Munich), Deniz Undav (Stuttgart)

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