(Reuters) – Germany midfielder Ilkay Gundogan has been ruled out of Monday’s Euro 2020 qualifier against Northern Ireland, joining a growing list of absentees, coach Joachim Loew said on Sunday.
On Saturday, fellow midfielder Nico Schulz had to pull out injured and the Germans, who lost 4-2 at home against the Dutch in their Group C qualifier on Friday, are already without Leroy Sane, Leon Goretzka and Antonio Ruediger among others.
“Ilkay is out with a flu virus. This afternoon, he had to return home,” Loew told a news conference in Belfast.
“Nico Schulz left yesterday and obviously for a young team at the beginning of its development these changes are not ideal.”
Loew’s team is undergoing a major overhaul after a disappointing 2018 World Cup group stage exit and Nations League relegation.
Friday’s loss left them on nine points from four games, three behind leaders Northern Ireland.
The Netherlands are on six from three games and next face bottom side Estonia.
“Our job is to get three points here tomorrow after the defeat on Friday and the team knows it is important,” Loew said. “Northern Ireland will not have the attacking power of the Dutch. They play with only one forward.”
Netherlands scored four times in 32 second-half minutes to secure a comeback win against their neighbours.
“Overall, Northern Ireland will be a more defensive opponent and we will only need two central defenders and not three,” Loew said.
“But they are group leaders, have won all four of their games. So we must do everything to win this game.”
(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; Editing by Ian Chadband)