September 5, 2017 / 9:31 AM / 10 months ago

Soccer: Werner earns top billing as Germany striker

BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany striker Timo Werner’s enviable scoring record after only eight internationals has earned him a starting spot in attack with fellow forward Mario Gomez bowing to the talented 21-year-old less than a year before the World Cup.

Soccer Football - 2018 World Cup Qualifications - Europe - Germany vs Norway - Stuttgart, Germany - September 4, 2017 Germany’s Timo Werner celebrates scoring their fourth goal REUTERS/Michaela Rehle

Werner burst onto the international scene in the past year and has so far netted six times for Germany, including three at the Confederations Cup this summer, where he was joint top scorer.

The RB Leipzig forward, whose speed and versatility up front has given Germany far more options, has muscled his way into the team and his two goals in their 6-0 rout of Norway on Monday further tightened his hold on the spot.

“He will dominate the attack for Germany for the next 10 years,” the 32-year-old Gomez, who has himself scored a highly respectable 31 goals in 71 matches, told reporters after also getting onto the scoresheet against Norway.

“It is likely he will do the same in Europe if he continues like that. He is level-headed and does a fantastic job. We need someone like Timo in such a form if we want to be world champions.”

Werner has not had an easy ride so far, switching last year from then relegated home club VfB Stuttgart to RB Leipzig, despised by many German fans for their big budget thanks to energy drinks maker Red Bull.

Despite being booed in some games, he went on to score 21 league goals in his first season there and his goal run shows no signs of drying up.

His strikes for Germany have contributed to their best ever World Cup qualifying campaign that sees them a point away from booking their ticket to Russia with two qualifiers remaining.

The Germans have won all their eight matches so far, scoring 35 goals and conceding just two.

“I am personally very happy if I can also score for the national team,” Werner said on Monday. “It just makes it that much more fun.”

Gomez, who missed the 2014 World Cup triumph through injury, has now conceded second spot to Werner as the Germans prepare to defend their title next year in Russia.

“I told the coach that if he needs me I will be there, I am satisfied in my role, especially if Timo fires us to World Cup victory,” Gomez said.

Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; editing by Sudipto Ganguly

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