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Wednesday, 14 June, 2000, 09:30 GMT 10:30 UK
Matthaus strikes back
Under-fire Lothar Matthaus has hit back at critics in the Germany Euro 2000 squad who are alleged to have asked for the veteran to be dropped from Saturday's match against England.
Matthaus, who is 39, said he was unaware of any ill-feeling towards his inclusion in the team but seemed angry at the apparent backbiting.
"If somebody can't say to my face what he has against me, then I feel sorry for him," Matthaus was quoted as saying in the Bild daily.
"I won't allow myself to be made the scapegoat."
Striker Oliver Bierhoff had earlier refused to directly comment on Matthaus' involvement with the current German set-up.
"I am loathe to say it here and now, I don't want to say anything here," said Bierhoff.
"The coach has said he will listen to our opinions and everyone will get the chance to get off his chest what he wants to say.
"We will speak to him in private and I hope he listens."
Defender Jens Nowotny also stated that he is ready to fill the position of sweeper, a position which he currently plays at Bayer Leverkusen.
"We don't have much time before our match against England. I have to gather my strength to try and lead the team from the back," said Nowotny.
"If the team chief (coach Erich Ribbeck) calls on me to play in central defence, then I am ready to play this role."
But Ribbeck has made it clear he is ready to stick with Matthaus - who won his 148th cap against Romania - and brushed off claims of favouritism.
The coach said: "Lothar is still important to my plans.
"He admitted he was tired after the Romania game, but we showed weaknesses that can't be explained just by age and lack of condition.
"Lothar is a favourite of mine - but that is not why he is in the team. I cannot allow my subjective opinions on individuals to get in the way of team matters.
"I have to do what is right for the team irrespective of my personal feelings."
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