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Germany starts pre-World Cup training camp with injury worries to key players

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FRANKFURT - Germany began an 11-day training camp in northern Italy on Wednesday with injury worries clouding the mood of the team shortly before the World Cup.

Several key players, including captain Philipp Lahm and goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, are carrying injuries into the camp in St. Leonhard, in the German speaking Alto Adige region. Lahm and Neuer will join the rest of the team later.

Defender Per Mertesacker delayed his arrival by a day because of the birth of his second child.

Another star, Sami Khedira of Real Madrid, will not join the squad until after the Champions League final on Saturday.

Germany coach Joachim Loew's camp will eventually include 27 players. The squad will return to Germany for a friendly against Cameroon on June 1, after which Loew will announce his final 23-man squad.

Germany also plays Armenia on June 6, one day before departing for Brazil.

The Germans open their World Cup campaign against Portugal on June 16 in Salvador, then play Ghana on June 21 in Fortaleza and conclude the group stage against the United States on June 26 in Recife.

Loew said earlier this week that he was optimistic about Lahm and Neuer recovering for the World Cup.

"But it's good and important to have them with us in South Tirol from the start, even if they can't practice," Loew said.

His players, however, decided to extend their break.

While the remaining squad flew to Italy, Bayern Munich's players arrived by car — minus Lahm and Neuer.

While Lahm was expected to show up on Friday, Neuer was "day-by-day," but still expected to arrive at some point, team spokesman Jens Grittner said.

The decision for them to stay in Munich was reached mutually by Loew and team doctors, Grittner said.

Lahm, nominally a defender, can also play in midfield, a role he has executed well at Bayern Munich. He injured his left ankle in the German Cup final on Saturday, when Bayern beat Borussia Dortmund 2-0.

Doctors said he would not be able to train for up to seven days and Lahm said Wednesday he would stay home until Friday, while stressing that he would be ready for the World Cup.

"I need to rest a few days but I will be top fit by the World Cup," Lahm told Bild newspaper in comments also published on the federation's site.

Lahm said Germany needed to work on its defence.

"We've allowed too many goals and too many chances recently. We have to pay more attention to our defence," he said.

Neuer injured his right shoulder in the cup final and is wearing a brace.

Khedira has yet to play a full match since coming back this month from a knee injury that had sidelined him for six months. A leader of the team, he is considered one of Loew's key men.

Midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger has been nursing a knee inflammation and missed the cup final. Miroslav Klose, one of only two strikers in squad, has been bothered by a hamstring injury. Defender Mats Hummels has a foot injury and played the cup final on medication. He played only 23 Bundesliga games this season for Dortmund because of various injuries.

Germany also trained in the same region ahead of the 1990 World Cup in Italy and went on to win the last of its three titles.

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