2022 World Cup | Niclas Füllkrug emerges as an option to lead the line for Germany in wake of Timo Werner’s injury

Werner’s confirmed absence in Qatar leaves Hansi Flick with an increasingly difficult question to answer in who should lead the line for Germany, with calls for SV Werder Bremen’s Niclas Füllkrug to be given a chance

The 2022 World Cup in Qatar is set to be without another star name this winter after RB Leipzig confirmed the severity of the injury suffered by star striker Timo Werner.

“Turbo Timo” suffered an ankle injury last night in Die Roten Bullen’s 4-0 away win against Shakhtar Donetsk in Warsaw which continued RBL’s hot run of form in the Champions League, but will now strip the Bundesliga outfit - and Germany - of his services for the remainder of the calendar year.

His absence now puts Nationalmannschaft boss Hansi Flick in a bit of a bind when it comes to narrowing down his squad for the winter showdown in Qatar, leaving Flick stripped of real depth at the center-forward position when it comes to established internationals.

As of the final round of UEFA Nations League fixtures, Flick had called upon Werner, Karim Adeyemi, and Lukas Nmecha for his option at center-forward, but there are few - if any - that would be of the opinion that either the Borussia Dortmund starlet or VfL Wolfsburg frontman truly viable options to lead the line for Die Mannschaft this winter.

Other options currently in the fold could come down to the likes of Serge Gnabry, Kai Havertz, or Thomas Müller being thrust into the number 9 role, with Gnabry previously taking ownership of that position back in 2019 when he scored nine goals in eight caps for his country.

According to ESPN’s lead Bundesliga commentator Derek Rae, calls for SV Werder Bremen striker Niclas Füllkrug will now, more than ever, come to the fore.

Rae certainly echoes a reality that has plagued Germany since the days of Miroslav Klose; Germany’s all-time leading scorer (71 goals) and the last traditional center forward to really lead the nation from the front.

Others have found credible success, namely Mario Gomez, but none of the current strikers in the national team setup are traditional box strikers that offer a central profile that would suit an aerial game of note, forcing Germany to really only play in a particular manner on a tactical level that has been proven to be easily countered as evidence by their frustrating Nations League campaign.

Füllkrug, despite being nearly 30, has never been given a full cap for his country and last appeared in a German kit at U20 level from 2012-14 but was prolific for the U19′s to the tune of five goals in seven caps.

Goals have come in spurts for the Hanover native and Bremen academy product, having previously scored 14 goals in 2015-16 for 1. FC Nürnberg and then again in 2017-18 for hometown side Hanover 96, while his career-best season came last term when he helped Werder claw their way back into the Bundesliga on the back of his 19 goals in 2. Bundesliga.

Thus far in 2022-23, Füllkrug has been a leading light once more for Die Werderaner while hitting 9 goals in 12 Bundesliga appearances, good enough to be joint-top of the goal chart alongside RBL’s Christopher Nkunku.

A traditional box striker who is brilliant in the air while boasting strong hold-up play and finishing instincts that Germany has been lacking, despite his inexperience on the international level, Füllkrug could be just what the doctor ordered in the wake of Werner’s untimely absence for the four-time World Cup champions.

Andrew Thompson

US-based Football writer. German football guru with a wealth of experience in youth development and analysis. Data aficionado. Happily championing the notion that Americans have a knowledgeable voice in the beautiful game.

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