Joachim Löw has dismissed suggestions his decision to rest several key players for Tuesday's friendly against England is in any way disrespectful and was generous in his praise for his opposite number Roy Hodgson, a man the Germany manager first encountered during his playing days with FC Winterthur in Switzerland.

The full-back turned midfielder Philipp Lahm, midfielder Mesut Özil and goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, were absent from the German travelling party that made the trip to London after last Friday's 1-1 draw in Italy, during which the defensive midfielder Sami Khedira sustained knee-ligament damage that could wreck his chances of appearing at the 2014 World Cup finals in Brazil.

However, talk that Löw's decision to field several reserves against England was in any way insulting was dismissed as exactly that – only talk.

"It was clear for me that these two matches against Italy and England, I would use them to try out new players in key positions and what better test for these up-and-coming players than to play in front of a partisan crowd of 80,000 fans spurring their own team on," he said.

"It was clear to me that I needed to experiment a bit and send home some of the players who are firmly established. It was a deliberate acid test for these young players and it's definitely not the case that we're fielding a B team or that there's any lack of respect to our hosts."

The goalkeeper Roman Weidenfeller, midfielder Sven Bender, left-back Marcel Schmelzer and centre-backs Jérôme Boateng and Mats Hummels will be given the chance to impress against England, in a team Löw believes still has significant room for improvement.

"Against Italy we lacked efficiency in the final third and we have to be more efficient, more to the point," he said. "Maybe we were missing the kind of clinical precision that is needed at that level.

"Defensively speaking, I think the game against Italy was a very good performance: very compact, we closed our opponents down, our forwards were pressing the Italian midfielders, so they didn't have any time on their hands. But we need quicker transitions, picking up the rebounds … we could get better there."

While Germany's shortcomings are probably the inadequacies of Hodgson's dreams, Löw does not subscribe to the view that Tuesday night's opponents are international also-rans. "England have been, always will be and still are one of the big footballing nations," he said, naming Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard and Wayne Rooney as elite game-changers, before citing the team's "tremendous force" and "tackling power" as ticks on the ledger's credit side.

"Roy Hodgson is a fantastic coach," he added. "Wherever he's gone, he's left the most positive of marks. He's a man of the world who's gone to Sweden and a host of other countries, where he's learned about the local culture, the people and the styles of football played there.

"As a person, he comes across as a gentleman, perfect manners and always an open ear for young coaches."

Speaking of the horrific knee injury that has threatened to derail the World Cup hopes of one of his key midfielders, Löw was cautiously optimistic with his prognosis. "The doctors have assured us that the operation went well," he said of the surgery on Khedira's knee.

"If anyone's capable of coming back from such a serious injury and playing in a World Cup, then that player would be Sami Khedira. He is a natural-born fighter, it's in his spirit, so let's see what happens. We just have to be optimistic, like he is."