EU officials are understood to be selecting a team of German negotiators as Brexit looks likely to go to extra time.
Senior European Union officials have suggested replacing the UK's 21-month transition period with extra negotiating time with the UK remaining a full EU member state.
The proposal would allow the UK and EU to develop plans for the future relationship, resolve the contentious Irish backstop, and reduce the chance of the UK crashing out with no deal.
On Sunday evening a delegation of German trade negotiators was seen warming up outside of the European Parliament, increasing speculation that Brussels is preparing for the final round of Brexit negotiations to be decided on penalties.
As either West Germany or Germany, the nation has won every negotiation that they have been involved in, which could mean some tense meetings ahead for, third substitute Brexit Secretary, Stephen Barclay.
Informed sources in the EU are suggesting extra time is almost inevitable unless Theresa May can substitute the full membership of the ERG between now and March 31st.
The ERG has traditionally fielded strong defensive players in Europe but has failed to adapt to the modern European game, raising questions about their continued selection for May’s side.
Jacob Rees-Mogg, considered by many as the ERG’s star player, has solid form when lobbing them in from the right wing but is yet to be proven up front, while Chris Grayling has had a frankly embarrassing home season with a succession of own goals.
Meanwhile rumours that May intended to make a further Brexit Secretary substitution ahead of a penalty shootout appear to be unfounded, with the Prime Minister’s office confirming this morning that it was a misunderstanding as she thought Barclay had a cramp.