Associated Press
Friday September 30th, 2016

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — Ilkay Gundogan will return for Germany after nearly a year out with various injuries for World Cup qualifiers against the Czech Republic and Northern Ireland.

The Manchester City midfielder last played for Germany in a friendly against France on Nov. 13, the night of multiple attacks in Paris that killed 130 people.

Gundogan missed the European Championship in France.

Striker Mario Gomez and defender Jerome Boateng are also back after injuries at the European Championship.

Germany began the defense of its World Cup title with a 3-0 win in Norway. The team plays the Czechs in Hamburg on Oct. 8 and Northern Ireland three days later in Hannover.

Germany is the favorite to win Group C and qualify directly for the 2018 tournament in Russia.

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"These two home matches are very important for us," Germany coach Joachim Low said Friday. "We started well in Norway and we wanted to win the next matches and maintain the lead in our group."

After the Czech Republic's early exit at Euro 2016, the team is rebuilding under new coach Karel Jarolim. In their first qualifier, the Czechs drew Northern Ireland 0-0.

"They are going to be particularly motivated against us and we have to be very focused from the start," Low said.

Germany beat Northern Ireland 1-0 at Euro 2016.

Here is Germany's squad in full:

GOALKEEPERS: Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich), Bernd Leno (Bayer Leverkusen), Marc-Andre ter Stegen (Barcelona)

DEFENDERS: Jerome Boateng (Bayern Munich), Jonas Hector (Cologne), Benedikt Howedes (Schalke), Mats Hummels (Bayern Munich), Joshua Kimmich (Bayern Munich), Shkodran Mustafi (Arsenal), Sebastian Rudy (Hoffenheim)

MIDFIELDERS: Julian Brandt (Bayer Leverkusen), Julian Draxler (Wolfsburg), Ilkay Gundogan (Manchester City), Sami Khedira (Juventus), Toni Kroos (Real Madrid), Max Meyer (Schalke), Thomas Muller (Bayern Munich), Mesut Ozil (Arsenal), Julian Weigl (Borussia Dortmund)

FORWARDS: Mario Gomez (Wolfsburg), Mario Gotze (Borussia Dortmund), Kevin Volland (Bayer Leverkusen)

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