HANSI FLICK is hoping surprise package Niclas Fullkrug can be the answer to Germany’s long-term striker problems.
Fullkrug marked his senior debut aged 29 by scoring the only goal of his country’s uninspiring 1-0 friendly win in Oman on Wednesday evening.
ReutersNiclas Fullkrug made his Germany debut in midweek aged 29[/caption]
The striker has been in superb form this season for Werder BremenGetty
APFullkrug has experience playing in the German second-tier[/caption]
Fullkrug plays for mid-table Bundesliga team Werder Bremen and is the first player from that team to play at the World Cup in 12 years -the last being midfielder Torsten Frings.
The striker played in the German second division last season, helping Bremen bounce back to the Bundesliga after relegation in 2020-21.
Fullkrug also has experience playing in the second-tier from spells with FC Nurnburg and Greuther Furth.
He earned a shock call up to the Germany squad after scoring ten goals for his team this season and is considered an old-fashioned number nine.
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Sources in the German camp claim Fullkrug could be the answer to a long-standing issue of having a ‘real number nine’ in the team since legend Miroslav Klose.
Fullkrug played at youth level for Die Mannschaft but has never before played for the senior team.
His one cap one goal record so far rekindles memories for England fans of former Portsmouth striker David Nugent who came on as a sub in a Euro 2008 qualifier against Andorra and scored during his 11 minutes on the pitch.
He was never capped by England again however, whereas Germany fans are hoping unlikely hero Fullkrug can play a key role in Qatar 2022.
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Retired Southampton forward Rickie Lambert was 31 when he made his England bow.
Germany play their opening Group E game against Japan next Wednesday.
Germany boss Flick said: “I wanted the players to show me if they are ready to play at the World Cup – he did that.”
Flick does have injury concerns over iconic midfielder Thomas Muller with his country’s opening match less than a week away.
The 115-cap legend will only start full training tomorrow after a series of niggling injuries has hampered his season.
Muller, 33, has suffered back, stomach and hip problems in addition to a bout of Covid.
Flick said: “We already have lots of quality in his position but we will need them all if we want the tournament to be successful. It’s also about what the players offer us.”
GettyFullkrug is hoping to make an impact for Germany in Qatar[/caption]