Schweinsteiger in doubt for Euro 2016 with knee ligament tear

BERLIN (AP) — Germany captain Bastian Schweinsteiger faces a race against time to be fit for the European Championship after a scan on his latest knee injury revealed a partial ligament tear on Wednesday.

The Manchester United midfielder was hurt toward the end of training on Tuesday, and the extent of the injury was determined in Munich by Germany team doctor Hans-Wilhelm Mueller-Wohlfahrt.

A recovery period was not immediately given but Schweinsteiger is definitely out of Germany's friendlies against England and Italy in the next week, and he could be a doubt for Germany's opening Euro 2016 game against Ukraine in Lille, France on June 10.

"It happened without any other player involved, when he took a pass and aggravated the previous injury," Germany coach Joachim Low said, referring to a ligament tear which sidelined him for two months already this year.

Schweinsteiger was actually being challenged by another player when he suffered the injury, German football federation media director Ralf Koettker later said.

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Mesut Ozil and Karim Bellarabi were staying in the team hotel for treatment. Ozil took a knock to his left ankle playing for Arsenal, while Bellarabi had a bruise in his right foot.

Germany plays England at Berlin's Olympiastadion on Saturday, then Italy in Munich three days later.

Despite the absences—only 14 of 26 call-ups trained on the pitch in the first session at Hertha Berlin's stadium—Low was looking forward to the games to kick-start their European Championship preparations.

"We deliberately looked for strong opponents. They're not normal friendlies but very special games," said Low, who added that he picked a larger squad than usual to give every player a chance to impress.

"It's important to have a bit of clarity after these games as it's the last chance before the (championship) squad is nominated."

One player who was being given every chance was Mario Gotze, despite his difficulties in breaking into the Bayern Munich team following an injury on international duty on Oct. 8.

"I know what he can do, what he brings. He's professional. I assume he'll play a few games for Bayern. I'm planning on him for the European Championship," Low said of Gotze, whose extra-time goal against Argentina won the 2014 World Cup for Germany.

"Bayern also have a coach with a clear impression of how he wants to play. There is huge competition for places in the positions in which Mario plays. He was doing well, then he got injured. It's the decision of the coach," Low said.

"With us, in the national team, he didn't always play from the beginning either. He is a refined player that can always decide games. He can do decisive things. It's always worth supporting Mario Gotze because he can do things that others can't."

Low reflected on the attacks that killed at least 34 people and injured 270 others in Brussels the day before, saying they brought back memories of the attacks in Paris in November, when the team was playing France at the Stade de France.

"They make us all a bit more pensive. When you see the pictures, thoughts of Paris come back," Low said. "But we don't let ourselves be affected by this.

"The security arrangements will be discussed internally, of course. We hope the European Championship passes peacefully so that sport remains the focus. We're concentrating fully on the sporting aspect."

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