I can replace Schweinsteiger, says returning Gundogan
INJURY-PRONE Ilkay Gundogan says he is ready to fill Bastian Schweinsteiger's midfield role in world champion Germany's upcoming 2018 World Cup qualifiers.
Germany host the Czech Republic in Hamburg on Saturday and Northern Ireland next Tuesday in Hanover, having opened their qualifying campaign last month with a 3-0 win in Norway.
With striker Mario Gomez out with a glute injury, the world champions will have to rely on goals from Thomas Mueller, who netted twice against Norway, and Mario Goetze, but there will be a battle for places in the defensive midfield.
Schweinsteiger made his 121st and final appearance for Germany in August before retiring and Gundogan is a candidate to slot into his vacated No. 6 role.
But he will face a battle with Juventus' Sami Khedira to partner Real Madrid's Toni Kroos in the star-studded defensive midfield.
Gundogan is back after nearly a year's absence at international level.
Despite only a handful of appearances for Manchester City this season, he said he is ready to take responsibility in Germany's midfield.
"I would have backed myself to take over the role sooner," Gundogan told magazine Sport Bild.
"That has nothing to do with Basti's retirement, we should all just be grateful that we had such a great player playing for us."
Gundogan last played for Germany in November last year, in the 2-0 defeat to France in Paris during the night of the Nov 13 terror attacks.