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Loew backs injured Ballack to return for Germany

SoccerNews in Bundesliga, European Championships 15 Sep 2010

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Germany coach Joachim Loew on Wednesday backed injured captain Michael Ballack to win back his place and lead the national side into Euro 2012, despite the ex-Chelsea star’s lastest injury setback.

Ballack suffered an ankle injury in May which kept him out of the World Cup and then fractured his knee last Saturday playing for Leverkusen in just his third match back.

He is expected to miss the next six weeks.

In Ballack’s absence, Real Madrid’s Sami Khedira took his place in Germany’s midfield alongside Bastian Schweinsteiger and Loew is backing his skipper to return.

But Loew has acknowledged time is not on the veteran’s side.

“Basically, I do think that Michael Ballack can come back again, because he is driven by an enormous ambition,” said the 50-year-old Loew.

“But I have told him that Bastian Schweinsteiger and Sami Khedira are currently in front of him.”

Ballack was left out of the squad for the Euro 2012 qualifiers against Belgium and Azerbaijan last month and will miss October’s games against Turkey and Kazakhstan with Philipp Lahm expected to captain the side.

After his four-year contract at Chelsea was not renewed earlier this year, Ballack has returned to the Bundesliga and Leverkusen.

The former Chelsea star turns 34 at the end of the month and Loew says it will be harder for him to win back his place than in the past and hinted maybe the time is approaching for Ballack to consider retirement.

“Time is moving on, but younger players come through,” said Loew.

“That is for everyone, not only Michael Ballack: At some point, everyone must recognise the time has gone when you can produce top performances.”

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