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Neuer ready to play mentor's role at Euro 2016

Football Soccer - Euro 2016 - Germany News Conference - Stade Camille Fournier, Evian-Les-Bains, France 9/6/16 - Germany's goalkeeper Manuel Neuer during news conference REUTERS/Denis Balibouse
Football Soccer - Euro 2016 - Germany News Conference - Stade Camille Fournier, Evian-Les-Bains, France 9/6/16 - Germany's goalkeeper Manuel Neuer during news conference REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

REUTERS - Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer is ready to play the mentor's role irrespective of who leads the team in their Euro 2016 opener against Ukraine on Sunday.

With skipper Bastian Schweinsteiger, returning from a knee injury, unlikely to start at Stade Pierre-Mauroy, Neuer might be asked to deputise and the Bayern Munich goalkeeper played down the importance of the role.

"The coach has not spoken about this, neither to me personally nor in front of the team," Neuer told the UEFA website.

"It doesn't really matter to us who wears the armband if Bastian doesn't start."

Neuer hoped his experience would be invaluable to the youngsters, such as Leory Sane and Julian Weigl, in the squad.

"As a goalkeeper, I talk a lot to my fellow players on and off the pitch," the 30-year-old added.

"For a few years now I have seen myself as a leader and I particularly try to help the young players who come into the squad."

The World Champions are one among the favourites for the 24-team tournament in France this month, and will be eyeing their first continental title since 1996.

After mixed results in their warmup games, including a 3-1 defeat by Slovakia, Neuer said that the players were keen to get onto the pitch.

"We are excited that the tournament is about to begin," he said.

"Obviously, preparation and training is needed, but the best thing is when the matches start. The mood within the team is very good and we can hardly wait to take to the pitch."

Germany kept their first clean sheet for nearly a year in their 2-0 win against Hungary in their warm-up friendly on Saturday, but the their defence has been further questioned after injuries to centre-back Mats Hummels and Antonio Ruediger.

"Given Ruediger's injury, it's good to have versatile defenders and Benedikt Hoewedes fits right into that category," Neuer added.

"Ultimately, that's up to the coach (on who plays). He does not turn to us players for advice when it comes to that."

Poland and Northern Ireland are the other teams in Group C.

(Reporting by Nivedita Shankar in Bengaluru; editing by Amlan Chakraborty)

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