Germany coach Joachim Loew said on Sunday he still has captain Michael Ballack in his plans for the national side, despite dropping the midfielder for the opening Euro 2012 qualifiers.
The 33-year-old missed Friday’s 1-0 win over Belgium in Brussels and will not be in the side for Tuesday’s qualifier against Azerbaijan in Cologne as he works his way back to fitness after an ankle injury.
In his absence, Real Madrid’s Sami Khedira has taken Ballack’s midfield place, but Loew insists he still has the former Chelsea star in his planning.
“I hope the team continues to grow, and that certainly includes Michael,” Loew told German daily Bild on Sunday.
Last Wednesday, Loew confirmed Leverkusen’s Ballack will regain the captaincy from Philipp Lahm when he returns.
“We must acknowledge that Michael is not yet able to help us, that was clear in his first match (with Bayer Leverkusen in the Bundesliga) since his ankle injury,” said Loew, who led Germany to third at the World Cup.
“Our team progressed enormously during the World Cup, some players like Sami Khedira and Bastian Schweinsteiger raised their game,” he said.
“But I thought about it calmly and it was clear that Michael should remain captain.”
Loew refused to confirm whether Ballack will return for October’s qualifiers against Turkey and Kazakhstan.
“We must evaluate the situation closer to the time, but the issue was not discussed during my conversations with him,” said Loew.
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