Stefan Kiessling can't get a look-in for GermanyBayer Leverkusen striker Stefan Kiessling is enjoying his best season since 2009/2010 when his 21 goals in 33 games earned him a recall to Germany's squad for the World Cup finals in South Africa.
He's the Bundesliga's top scorer with 16 goals in 24 games along with Robert Lewandowski. That total has already equalled his tally from 34 games last season.
But despite this it doesn' t look as if World Cup lightning is going to strike twice for the rangy striker who clearly doesn't feature in the plans of coach Joachim Loew.
Germany play second from bottom Kazakhstan in back-to-back World Cup qualifiers at the end of March but Kiessling won't be holding his breath about his chances of a call up. In fairness the 'Nationalmannschaft' have been doing pretty well without him. They top their World Cup qualifying group with 10 points from four games, three points above Sweden who have a game in hand.
In Germany's last game against France in Paris in February, Loew recalled Mario Gomez who had only started one game for Bayern Munich since recovering from ankle surgery in August. In total Gomez had only played 170 minutes of Bundesliga football but that was still good enough for Loew rather than experiment with an in-form Kiessling.
"Mario Gomez is in good shape again after his long injury. Like Miroslav Klose, he has all the pre-requisites to put our playing philosophy into practice,» Loew said. « I'm convinced that, thanks to his experience and qualities, he will assert himself at the highest international level."
Read between the lines and the implication is that Kiessling doesn't fit in with Germany's playing style.
It's not about age. Kiessling is a relative spring chicken, five years younger than the 34-year-old Klose.
Public opinion is with the striker. In a poll in the respected sports magazine 'Kicker', 75 per cent said Kiessling should be called up for the Kazakhstan games.
Kiessling seems resigned to his situation. "I haven't spoken with Joachim Loew since the last World Cup. There's nothing left for me to say. I just don't know what I have to do to get back in the international picture. There's no point in talking about it any more. The only positive is that I get to spend more time with my family."
A glimmer of hope is the case of Hamburg SV goalkeeper Rene Adler. In the friendly against France, Adler, who's been in superb form this season, played his first game for Germany for two years. But there's a big difference between the two players. A goalkeeper doesn' t have to fit into a team's tactical set-up in the same way a striker does. And that seems to be the sticking point.
As Loew says "I'm not going to call Kiessling up for just one game. I will call him up when I can show him a real perspective."
At 29 years of age, Kiessling is in the prime of his career and oozing a confidence which was clear to see last weekend in the home game to VfB Stuttgart. Trailing 1-0 to a dubious penalty, Leverkusen won a spot kick themselves with just eight minutes to go. Time to play safe perhaps and blast the penalty home. Not for Kiessling. Up against Sven Ullreich he decided to kick a 'Panenka' penalty. Fortune favours the brave, Ullreich dived to his right, the ball went straight down the middle and Leverkusen were level. Four minutes later Kiessling was again involved as Lars Bender snatched the winner for the home side.
The win leaves Leverkusen in third place just a point behind outgoing champions Borussia Dortmund. But that could all change this weekend when Dortmund travel to play arch-rivals FC Schalke 04 in the Ruhr Valley Derby, the biggest in the Bundesliga. If Leverkusen win in Mainz this Saturday afternoon, they could go back into second place.
In the last transfer window, there was a lot of talk about Kiessling making a 11 million euro move to West Ham, but that broke down. The latest rumour is about a cut-price deal to Chelsea at the end of season. Cynics might offer two words of warning - Marko Marin. His move to Chelsea has been a flop. However a transfer does make sense and it could well be the right time for both player and club.
This is Kiessling's seventh season at Leverkusen after joining from Nuremberg in his native Bavaria in 2006 - he has just two years left on his current contract so Leverkusen could get some money for him while he could enjoy a new challenge and maybe his last big move.
At the start of the season, Leverkusen joint coach Sami Hyppia said he was dreaming of a return to the Champions League. If Kiessling were to leave at the end of the season – and if he carries on scoring – then qualifying 'Die Werkself' for Europe's elite compeition would provide the perfect farewell gift.
Just as long as he doesn't expect to receive that call from Loew with an invitation to Brazil next summer.