Bierhoff backs injured Wirtz to bounce back for WC

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The 18-year-old attacking midfielder sustained a major knee injury during Bayer Leverkusen's defeat by FC Koln earlier this month, with a torn anterior cruciate ligament guaranteeing a long-term absence.

But speaking ahead of friendlies against Israel and Netherlands, national team managing director Bierhoff believes Wirtz has both the incentive and the physical attributes that mean his prospects are positive.

The teenager has already earned four senior caps for Germany, having made his debut last September after dazzling at club level.

There is no doubt Wirtz is a beneficiary from the World Cup taking place unusually in November and December, given he now has some hope of being able to get fit and match ready.

Had the tournament run in June and July, as has been the custom, he would have been ruled out of Germany's plans by now.

"I'm absolutely convinced that he can do it, for various reasons," Bierhoff said. "First, there is the mental aspect when you have a World Cup in front of you.

"But he's also a light-footed player, and I'm always confident that they'll get over it a little faster. We will give all possible support in coordination with the club."

"Our demand is that the players have the World Cup in their heads all year round.

"I am firmly convinced that if you start early and also deal with this topic mentally and build up this inner will, you will do everything you can to want to play a successful tournament in November.

"We will always give the players material so that they can take this one step further."

With 10 goals and 14 assists across all competitions, Wirtz has the most direct goal involvements among players under the age of 21 in 2021-22 from Europe's top five leagues.

The 19 big chances created by Wirtz is bettered only by Kylian Mbappe, Thomas Muller and Dimitri Payet (all on 20), as well as Trent Alexander-Arnold (22) and Bruno Fernandes (23).


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