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Loew drops defender Beck for final World Cup squad

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — Germany coach Joachim Loew has trimmed his World Cup squad to the final 23 players by dropping defender Andreas Beck.

The 23-year-old Hoffenheim defender has seven caps for Germany but was one of the players whose place had been considered unsafe.

"He had an average season," Loew said.

Loew will take to South Africa a young squad that is missing captain Michael Ballack and four other injured players.

Seven of Loew's players were still with the under-21 team last year, when it won the European Championship.

By dropping a defender, Loew kept six forwards for the tournament in South Africa. Germany opens its Group D campaign against Australia and also plays Serbia and Ghana.

"I have enough possibilities in defense," Loew said.

Loew took 27 players to a training camp in northern Italy, but injuries forced Ballack, defender Heiko Westermann and midfielder Christian Traesch to drop out. Earlier, goalkeeper Rene Adler and midfielder Simon Rolfes also were forced to pull out with injuries.

The coach delayed his decision until after Tuesday's practice at the team's base in south Tirol, a German-speaking area in northern Italy where Germany also prepared for the 1990 World Cup and went on to win the last of its three titles.

"Of course it's disappointing for Andreas Beck," Loew said. "He invested a lot in the training camp and was always fair and correct. He addressed a few words to the team in a meeting. And the team responded with applause. He is going to get another chance."

Loew retained defenders Dennis Aogo of Hamburger SV and Holger Badstuber of Bayern Munich, who have only one game each for Germany and had never been called up before Loew announced his provisional squad.

The Germans fly home Wednesday and play Bosnia-Herzegovina in their final warm-up match in Frankfurt on Thursday. The team flies to South Africa on Sunday.

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Squad:

Goalkeepers: Joerg Butt (Bayern Munich), Manuel Neuer (Schalke), Tim Wiese (Werder Bremen).

Defenders: Dennis Aogo (Hamburger SV), Holger Badstuber (Bayern Munich), Arne Friedrich (Hertha Berlin), Jerome Boateng (Hamburger SV), Marcell Jansen (Hamburger SV), Philipp Lahm (Bayern Munich), Per Mertesacker (Werder Bremen), Serdar Tasci (Stuttgart).

Midfielders: Sami Khedira (Stuttgart), Toni Kroos (Bayer Leverkusen), Marko Marin (Werder Bremen), Mesut Oezil (Werder Bremen), Bastian Schweinsteiger (Bayern Munich), Piotr Trochowski (Hamburger SV).

Forwards: Cacau (Stuttgart), Mario Gomez (Bayern Munich), Stefan Kiessling (Bayer Leverkusen), Miroslav Klose (Bayern Munich), Thomas Mueller (Bayern Munich), Lukas Podolski (Cologne).