BERLIN - Lars Bender was yesterday ruled out of next month's World Cup after suffering a thigh injury to deepen Germany's defensive midfield woes three weeks before their Brazil 2014 campaign.
The 25-year-old tore a tendon in his upper right thigh at their pre-World Cup training camp in north Italy, which he will leave yesterday, with Germany facing Portugal in their opening Group G game on June 16 in Salvador.
German head coach Joachim Loew has opted not to replace Bender in his 26-man squad, which needs to be reduced to 23 by June 2, but admits the loss of the Bayer Leverkusen star is a blow.
Bender's withdrawal further hampers Loew's defensive midfield plans where vice-captain Bastian Schweinsteiger is unable to train with tendonitis of the knee, while Real Madrid's Sami Khedira will not join the squad until after Saturday's Champions League final and spent most of the past six months sidelined with a knee injury.
"When a player drops out just before the start of a tournament with an injury, then it's disappointing for everyone," Loew told the German Football Association (DFB) website after Bender suffered the injury on Thursday.
"I am personally very sorry for Lars and I know he really wanted to be in Brazil.
"In terms of his performances and character, he is a absolute role model."
Loew is already waiting on captain Philipp Lahm (ankle) and goalkeeper Manuel Neuer (shoulder), with the Bayern Munich pair receiving intensive treatment and are unable to train.