Juventus midfielder Khedira fit to lead Germany


Sami Khedira may have missed Germany's friendly with England but he insists he feels "fitter than ever" as he prepares to lead the world champions against Azerbaijan.

The Juventus midfielder withdrew from Wednesday's clash against the Three Lions in Dortmund as a precaution, and watched on as Lukas Podolski scored the only goal of the game to mark his final international appearance.

Germany face Azerbaijan in Baku on Sunday in Group C of World Cup qualifying hoping to maintain their 100 per cent record with a fifth successive win.

Coach Joachim Low confirmed the 29-year-old will captain the side and Khedira - who suffered cruciate ligament problems earlier in his career - is raring to go, insisting he feels in great condition.

"It is difficult for me to say that this is the best period in my career in terms of my condition," he told a media conference.

"There were also other times where things were going really well.

"When you get older - and I will be 30 in a few weeks - you really take care of your body. I feel fitter than I ever have and coupled with my experience, I have found the perfect way to stay in shape.

"I have a place in this team and I feel very happy. Both myself and the coaching staff communicate with each other very well."

And the skipper had a word of warning for Sunday's opponents, saying Germany are hungrier than ever for success after being knocked out at the semi-final stage in the European Championship last year.

"We won the World Cup in 2014 and then three important players retired," he added. "I believe the coaching team also saw at the time that there was a slight gap there.

"You could see that it wasn't going that well and that 95 per cent effort wasn't enough.

"Now you can sense the hunger is there again after we went out of the Euros in the semi-finals. 

"If you give everything from the start and take the opposition seriously, then it is a lot more fun than when you have to really grind out a victory. The coach has told us that, there is no other way to do it."