Germany axe 'isn't right' on Muller, Boateng and Hummels, says Kovac

Jerome Boateng, Mats Hummels and Thomas Muller will no longer be called up for Germany duty by Joachim Low, much to Niko Kovac's surprise.

Niko Kovac is backing the sidelined players to respond by performing well on the pitch.   -  Bongarts

Bayern Munich boss Niko Kovac admits he was surprised by Joachim Low's ruthless decision to declare he will no longer call up Thomas Muller, Jerome Boateng or Mats Hummels for Germany.

Low confirmed in an interview with Bild on Tuesday that the World Cup-winning trio will not be part of his plans for Euro 2020 qualifying.

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Bayern issued a statement to criticise the timing of the announcement, with the Bundesliga champion facing Wolfsburg on Saturday before the second leg of its Champions League last-16 tie with Liverpool on Wednesday.

Kovac says the three players are upset by the decision, but he is backing them to respond by performing well on the pitch.

"I know that my players are disappointed - especially by the finality of it. To say a player is past it at 29, 30 isn't right," he told a news conference.

"The boys are fully focused now and I'm convinced that they will let their performances do the talking." 

Bayern head into Saturday's game level with Borussia Dortmund on 54 points at the top of the table.

Kovac thinks closing the gap to Lucien Favre's side has stimulated his Bayern players, although he is wary of underestimating a Wolfsburg side which has only lost four times in 15 away games this season in all competitions.

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"I'm convinced catching up has inspired us," he said. "We were obviously dependent on the teams that played against BVB, but we had to do our job. Now it goes to the finish.

"This is a very important game for us. We're on a good run and we want to continue that at the weekend. Wolfsburg are also in good form - they are the second-best away team in the league. We need to be on red alert."