England and Germany's World Cup preparations continue to be undermined by fitness problems ahead of their international friendly meeting at Wembley on Friday (10 November) after the injury list swelled to seven, with further withdrawals seemingly imminent. Jerome Boateng has joined the six Three Lions players to have pulled out due to an undisclosed muscle problem and he could be accompanied on the sidelines by Real Madrid midfielder Toni Kroos.
Kroos was among three players to train away from the main group on Wednesday due to a stomach bug, while a respiratory tract infection could also rule out goalkeeper Kevin Trapp. Boateng's Bayern Munich centre-back partner Mats Hummels was, meanwhile, forced to train inside, but the reason for his absence had not been fully explained.
Gareth Southgate's squad has already been decimated by a succession of injury withdrawals following the weekend's Premier League games. Tottenham Hotspur trio Harry Kane, Dele Alli and Harry Winks have been joined by Manchester City pair Raheem Sterling and Fabian Delph and Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson all of whom will miss the game this week and the second friendly against Brazil next Tuesday.
Everton's Michael Keane, West Bromwich Albion midfielder Jake Livermore and Jack Cork of Burnley have all been called up as replacements but Southgate faces naming two inexperienced sides for the double-headers – far from adequate preparation for the World Cup next summer, for which he will select a 23-man squad.
Though Boateng will definitely miss the game at Wembley he remains part of the Germany squad in the hope he could feature against France in Cologne next week. Real schemer Kroos, PSG stopper Trapp and Hummels will also remain with the squad as medical officials attempt to treat their respective fitness issues.
Manager Joachim Low is likely to be most concerned by the absence of Kroos, who is expected to play a key role for Germany when they attempt to defend their world title next summer. The 27-year-old, who moved from Bayern to the Bernabeu in the summer of 2014 off the back of Die Mannschaft prevailing in Brazil, played in seven of his country's 10 qualifiers en-route to Russia 2018.
He played the full 90 minutes earlier this year when Germany beat England 1-0 in Dortmund, thanks to Lukas Podolski's goal in his final international appearance. Since then, Kroos has won the Spanish title and the Champions League with Real, but has struggled for form this season. Indeed, manager Zinedine Zidane will be keen that Kroos' illness is managed appropriately to ensure he is full fit to face Atletico Madrid when the domestic season resumes on 18 November.
If selected, Kroos will be hoping to bounce back from his recent experience of Wembley, where Tottenham beat his Real side 3-1 in the Champions League. But tormentors in chief Kane, Alli and Winks will all be unavailable to Southgate, ensuring the ex-Bayer Leverkusen man could be in for a quieter evening.