Germany ponder Mueller replacement

CAPE TOWN — After pulverising Argentina 4-0 in their World Cup quarter-final, Germany will be forced into at least one change for Wednesday's semi-final due to Thomas Mueller's suspension.

A yellow card for handball means the 20-year-old Bayern Munich star, who has scored four goals at the event, will miss the biggest match of his career.

Coach Joachim Loew insists the Germans have enough depth to cover his absence - but even so it will require rejigging his game plan against Spain in Durban next Wednesday.

"It's clear it's a blow for us - he has shown himself to be dangerous in front of goal. But we have players who can replace him," insists Loew.

Until now, when Mueller has made way in the closing stages it has been for Hamburg attacking midfielder Piotr Trochowski, a 26-year-old born in Poland - like teammates Miroslav Klose and Lukas Podolski.

Trochowski is experienced, having won 34 caps, but while a talented dribbler he does not have have Mueller's physical presence.

Another option is Toni Kroos, a star of the world under-17 championships in 2007 and who, now aged 20, has appeared twice in South Africa.

Since an 18-month loan move from Bayern Munich he has shone with Bayer Leverkusen and Loew has regularly praised his technical prowess and vision.

Whoever gets the nod, top striker Miroslav Klose is not worried as Germany go up against the team that beat them in the final of Euro 2008.

"We have players in this group capable of compensating for his absence and we will show that in our next game," vowed Klose, who needs a goal to go level with Ronaldo as the all-time top scorer at the finals having hit 14 goals in three finals to date.