Door remains open for Ballack: Loew

The 34-year-old has been left out of the games against minnows Belgium and Azerbaijan to work on his fitness.


Afp August 28, 2010

BERLIN: Michael Ballack may have been dropped for next month’s Euro 2012 qualifiers but coach Joachim Loew says the door is still open for him to soon return to the national squad.

The 34-year-old has been left out of the games against minnows Belgium and Azerbaijan to work on his fitness with World Cup skipper Philipp Lahm likely to retain the captaincy. Ballack suffered an ankle injury in May which kept him out of South Africa and in his absence, Germany finished third and played arguably the most attractive football of the tournament.

Loew informed Ballack by telephone he is not part of the 21-man squad for the two qualifiers and with Ballack working his way back to fitness with the Leverkusen squad, there is no hint the ex-captain has been dropped for good.

“It was a good and honest talk,” said Loew. “Michael is on the right track three months after his serious injury and we are all satisfied with the recovery process. What is important now is that he works his way back into form with Leverkusen.”

The hot topic in the German media is the “K-frage” or who will captain Germany through their Euro 2012 campaign - Ballack or Lahm. Ballack does not cut a sympathetic figure: he is a dominant character and has clashed with both striker Lukas Podolski and team manager Oliver Bierhoff on the pitch during games for his country.

Lahm , as well as being an outstanding defender, has a fresh-faced image and prefers to let his football speak for him. Ballack is back in the Bundesliga after his four-year hiatus with Chelsea and is now under pressure to prove himself after failing to have his contract extended in London and losing his place in the Germany squad.

However, Leverkusen’s director of sport Rudi Voeller said Ballack has advised the midfielder against travelling.

“All eyes would have been on him,” said Voeller. “Michael would have had to shoot for goal, follow it up and then head it home, just to prove he really is fit.”

Published in The Express Tribune, August 28th, 2010.

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