Germany without Bode for qualifier

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The Independent Football

The Werder Bremen midfielder Marco Bode will definitely miss Germany's crucial World Cup qualifier against England after suffering a thigh injury.

The versatile Bode sustained the muscle tear during training with Bremen, and it is expected to take three weeks to heal. The 32-year-old, who featured in Germany's 5-2 friendly victory over Hungary last week, has been ruled out of coach Rudi Völler's plans. Germany lead Group Nine by six points from England and will qualify for next year's World Cup if they draw in Munich.

The former captain Lothar Matthäus has urged current the German captain Oliver Bierhoff to retire from playing internationally before the World Cup. Matthäus said it would be better for the 33-year-old Bierhoff to quit rather than settle for a place on the substitutes' bench. "Oliver seems content with a role coming off the bench," Matthaus said. "I think it would be better for him to skip the World Cup than accept a role coming off the bench."

However Matthäus had a warning for Germany. "England are not England anymore. Their game shows the trademark of their new coach [Sven Goran] Eriksson."

Bierhoff, who is in talks with Southampton after a frustrating season with Milan, has struggled to find the net for Germany recently. The player who claimed the golden goal that gave his country victory in the Euro 96 final has lost his place in the starting line-up, though he did score in the friendly against Hungary to end a long international drought.

The Copa America winners, Colombia, jump eight places to sixth in the new Fifa world rankings. They are now close behind fifth-placed Germany, and at their highest position since February 1997.

The top five remain unchanged, with France leading from Brazil, Argentina, Italy and Germany. But it has been the Copa America and World Cup qualifiers in South America which has most influenced the new rankings. Honduras, who scored a stunning victory against Brazil, climb 25 places to 23rd, while the losing finalists Mexico go up a place to 12th and Uruguay leap to 24th from 30th.

Scotland are on a par with Egypt after dropping down one place to 38th. Craig Brown's side have been out of action since facing Poland in April, but face a World Cup qualifying double-header against Belgium and Croatia next month.

England dropped one place to 15th following their defeat by the Netherlands, while the Republic of Ireland slipped two places to 25th.

Sammy McIlroy's Northern Ireland also fell one place to 107th position, while Wales remained in 105th spot.

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