Ballack set to miss Italy friendly

Updated: 04 February 2011 01:43 IST

Captain Michael Ballack is expected to be left out when the Germany squad is named on Friday for next week's friendly against Italy as he works his way back to fitness.

Ballack set to miss Italy friendly

Berlin:

Captain Michael Ballack is expected to be left out when the Germany squad is named on Friday for next week's friendly against Italy as he works his way back to fitness.

Germany coach Joachim Loew will name his team to play the 2006 World Cup winners in Dortmund next Wednesday and while youngsters Mario Goetze and Mats Hummels are set to be retained, Ballack is expected to be left out.

Having fractured his leg last September, the 34-year-old made only his first start last Friday for Leverkusen since the injury and is working his way back to fitness.

In his absence, Bayern Munich defender Philipp Lahm is expected to lead the side.

Germany manager Oliver Bierhoff has said the match against Italy is important for the Germans to build on the confidence of finishing third at the World Cup in South Africa.

"For moral and self-confidence, the game is enormously important to us," he said.

"We want to keep improving on the impressive performances.

"We don't want to lose that momentum, so we will be going flat out in this game."

Ballack looks set to feature in next month's games against Kazakhstan, a Euro 2012 qualifier on March 26 in Kaiserslautern, and a friendly against Australia on March 29 in Moenchengladbach.

Against the Italians, Loew looks set to select Dortmund's young guns Goetze and Hummels, who both impressed in Germany's goalless draw with Sweden in a friendly last November.

First-choice stars like striker Miroslav Klose, Lahm and Mesut Ozil are expected to feature after Loew rested many of his stars against Sweden.

Despite Klose being relegated to Bayern's bench recently, the 32-year-old has scored 58 goals in 105 appearances and is ten goals behind Gerd Mueller's all-time record for Germany.

Bayern team-mate Mario Gomez, who has scored 15 goals in 18 Bundesliga games this seaon, is expected to join Klose in the senior squad.

"Klose has a place," said Loew.

"There is no need for a discussion as far as we are concerned.

"We have a high opinion of him, whether or not he plays for Bayern.

"Everyone saw at the World Cup how important he was for us."

Topics : Football Germany
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