German manager Joachim Low has publicly pegged 23-year-old Stuttgart midfielder Sami Khedira as the first choice to replace the injured Michael Ballack in the upcoming World Cup.
Low insisted that he will not be changing his team's system or style of play between now and the World Cup and that he expects Khedira to step in without missing a beat.
"He has a great deal of potential and is a player who has already been given a lot of responsibility at Stuttgart. He also shows that he has matured.'' Low has told reporters.
Khedira showed signs of being a natural leader early on in his career. In 2007, he helped Stuttgart capture its first Bundesliga crown in 15 years.
He was only 20-years-old.
Since then, Khedira has assumed an enormous amount of responsibility for the Swabians.
The departures of both Mario Gomez and Thomas Hitzlsperger from VfB Stuttgart for the 2009-10 campaign tested the young Khedira.
Stuttgart struggled early on and ended up switching managers mid-way through the season.
Khedira helped to turn the ship around, taking VfB from the bottom of the table, to a UEFA Europa League spot next year.
Khedira's resume appears to have the skills and experience necessary to take over the second central midfield spot alongside Bastian Scheweinsteiger of Bayern.
Low was seen pulling the former U-21 captain aside for some one on one chats during die Mannschaft's training sessions in Sicily this week.
However, Low's early decision to stick hard and fast with Khedira does not necessarily mean that it’s, “all systems go,” for Germany in South Africa.
Low has been both honest and realistic when speaking to the media about the expectations for his team.
"We are not talking about the World Cup title," he said. "We have set ourselves the goal of playing a good World Cup and there is no point in building up the pressure by setting targets. Our first stage will be the group phase, which is going to be hard enough."
Germany's youthful and inexperienced roster hand-picked by Low has been both a point of interest, and a concern, throughout World Cup preparation.
Once German supporters came to grips with the fact that they will be without their captain for the upcoming competition, a small wave of panic swept over Germany, and fearful fans pondered if Low was the right man for the job.
However, Low's decision to nominate an early replacement out of his green midfielders and publicly dumb down expectations for Germany in South Africa will do well to settle the nerves of an anxious German National Team that is currently searching for a new identity.
Mannschaft players from returning UEFA Champions League Runner-Ups Bayern Munich will be given a couple of days rest before jetting off to Italy to re-join the rest of the team.
Germany sets course for South Africa on June 6th, they'll kick off their, “Group of Death” campaign, on June 13th against Australia.