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Ballack wins armband back from Lahm
Germany coach says Michael Ballack will resume duties despite missing World Cup with injury.
Last Modified: 01 Sep 2010 13:02 GMT
Ballack has been playing competitive matches for Leverkusen but will not yet make his international comeback [EPA]

Michael Ballack will take back the Germany captain's armband when he returns to the national team after an injury layoff, winning a tug-of-war against Philipp Lahm who replaced him at the World Cup in South Africa.

The 33-year-old, who has won 98 caps and scored 42 goals, had said he was expecting to take over the role again after he missed the World Cup due to an ankle injury, suffered when playing for Chelsea in the English FA Cup final.

Defender Lahm was picked to lead the Germany team at the tournament where they finished third and had said he wanted to stay on as captain even when Ballack returned.

The two were locked in a verbal row as Ballack returned to fitness after signing for former club Bayer Leverkusen.

"I have in the past days had a personal discussion with Ballack and I decided that Michael Ballack will continue being the captain of our team," Germany coach Joachim Loew said on Wednesday, ahead of their first Euro 2012 qualifier against Belgium in Brussels on Friday.

"But I told him that as things stand today I do not see him being able to help the team (after his recent injury)."

Ballack is not expected to make his international comeback until October at the earliest, missing the qualifiers against Belgium and then Azerbaijan on September 7 due to a lack of match practice.

'Short preparation'

"Michael had a short preparation due to the injury, he has only played two games and he knows that he is not yet in a position to strengthen the team. He understands that his performances so far are not what he wants them to be," Loew said.

Loew said Bastian Schweinsteiger and Sami Khedira had cemented their starting spots in midfield after a superb World Cup and that Ballack would have to return to top form to win a place in the team.

"We will see what the situation is in the coming weeks. I will monitor his development and in October I will decide whether I will boost the squad with him," said Loew, adding that Lahm would remain captain when Ballack was not on the pitch.

Pacy winger Martin Petrov can finally erase memories of an 11-year-old nightmare when Bulgaria visit England in their opening Euro 2012 qualifier.

In 1999, Petrov, who moved to Bolton Wanderers from Manchester City in June, made his international debut in the Euro 2000 qualifier against England, replacing former Bulgaria great Hristo Stoichkov in the second half.

Memories of the 1-1 draw, however, are still very painful as Petrov was shown a red card only eight minutes after coming on and he immediately broke into tears.

"I keep thinking back to this match and it's still painful, even after so many years," Petrov said on Wednesday.

"But I know there's no better way to get over this than playing against England at Wembley.”

Source:
Reuters
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