England might have missed out on a EURO 2012 semi-final showdown with Germany, but that won't stop West Ham United enjoyed a productive pre-season trip to the country next month.
The Hammers will spend a week in Germany as part of their preparations for the 2012/13 Barclays Premier League season, contesting matches against FC Rot-Weiß Erfurt (Steigerwaldstadion, Wednesday 25 July, 7pm), Dynamo Dresden (Friday 27 July, Glucksgas Stadion, 8.30pm) and FC Energie Cottbus (Sunday 29 July, Stadion der Freundschaft, 2.30pm)
Assistant manager Neil McDonald recently flew to Germany to make a check on the hotel and training camp where he and his fellow coaches will be putting the players through their paces.
McDonald was suitably impressed with what he saw, saying: "It is a fantastic place with excellent facilities and will be great for us as we prepare for the new season back in the Premier League.
"It is located in a nice spot, it is five or ten minutes from the hotel to the training ground and we can get there by either walking or cycling, so that will be good for the lads not having sort transport out to get them to and from there.
"It is right near the centre, which is a lovely little place with some great culture, little cafes and somewhere the lads, when they are given free time between training, can go and relax. That is just as important as how we do all of our training - that we are staying somewhere that is a good relaxed environment for the players.
"We will have a couple of new lads in the team and it will be nice to be somewhere to help the new ones settle in and create that squad spirit early on. Those of us already here will all get acquainted with each other again and create a nice settled atmosphere before the season begins."
West Ham's German tour will be the second of two training camps being conducted ahead of the new season. The Hammers will head for Austria next week, where the players will be put tghrough a host of physically-demanding training sessions before starting their pre-season schedule against Austria Vienna on Saturday 7 July (Generali Arena, 4pm).
"We will be doing double sessions every day we are training and then one lighter session on the day of the game. The weather should be nice, so that will be a good factor as we look to get the lads fit and ready and playing games.
"It will allow us to do some technical work as well as carry on the grafting and the more physical stuff."
Tickets for the German fixtures have been selling fast. Indeed, the meeting with Dynamo Dresden could attract a 30,000-plus crowd to the Glucksgas Stadium - a venue McDonald visited during his recent trip.
"I have been in football a long time now and I don't think I have ever known it when you are possibly playing in front of 30,000 or so people in a pre-season friendly. That will be amazing. We will also welcome the West Ham fans who come to see us. I am sure they will find the area nice as well and will enjoy it."
McDonald admitted that the excitement is starting to come back now that pre-season is only a week away.
"The buzz never leaves you really, but you go away and re-charge, then you get the butterflies again as you look towards being back and getting started again.
"We are looking forward to the season - first of all getting back, getting pre-season underway and then going onwards from there."