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German Premier League stars allowed back for World Cup qualifiers

German Premier League stars such as Timo Werner and Ilkay Gundogan will be granted an exception to coronavirus restrictions in order to play for their country in World Cup qualifiers later this month, the German FA (DFB) said Thursday.

The DFB said that local health authorities had greenlighted the exception to strict Covid-19 restrictions on travellers from the UK, allowing Joachim Loew to pick Werner, Gundogan, Kai Havertz and others for upcoming games against Iceland and North Macedonia in Duisburg.

The association added that the approval was “tied to very strict conditions” such as a negative PCR test on entry and players remaining in the team bubble and self-isolating when they are not playing or training.

The decision would also apply to Icelandic players active in the Premier League when they visit to play Germany in Duisburg, the DFB said.

Loew will name his squad on Friday as Germany prepare to launch their World Cup 2022 qualifying campaign next week against Iceland, prior to games away to Romania and at home to North Macedonia.

The long-serving German coach, who will step down after this summer’s European Championships, is also expected to hand international debuts to Bundesliga youngsters such as Bayer Leverkusen’s Florian Wirtz and Bayern Munich’s Jamal Musiala.

He was not the only national team coach who was expecting a selection headache this month, as coronavirus travel restrictions have led many Bundesliga clubs to consider not releasing their players for the international break.

– Possible quarantine –

Germany’s 14-day-quarantine rules on travellers from the UK have caused particular headaches, and could see several big name players denied the chance to win caps this month.

Borussia Dortmund’s Jude Bellingham has been called up to the England squad, but national team manager Gareth Southgate said it “did not look like” the 17-year-old would be able to play.

On Thursday, Dortmund sporting director Michael Zorc said the club would not release Bellingham if he had to quarantine on his return “and that led to disadvantages for Borussia Dortmund”.

Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich have a similar headache over star striker Robert Lewandowski, who is in the Poland squad for a game against England in London on March 31.

If he were forced to quarantine upon returning to Germany, the Polish striker would potentially miss Bayern’s crucial clash with title rivals RB Leipzig on April 3.

“We will see what the health authorities say and then decide according to what is best for the club,” said Bayern coach Hansi Flick on Wednesday.

Flick also confirmed that Bayern’s Austrian defender David Alaba would not travel to the UK for his country’s clash with Scotland on March 25.

Fellow Bundesliga Austrians such as Union Berlin captain Christopher Trimmel have also decided to skip the game.

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