Vol. 5 Num 1137 Fri. August 10, 2007  

Ballack doubtful for England

German coach Joachim Loew admitted on Thursday that his captain Michael Ballack is a doubt for Germany's friendly against England at the new Wembley on August 22.

Ballack, 30, has been out of action since picking up an ankle injury in April while playing for English giants Chelsea and was one of the London club's stars missing from last weekend's Community Shield clash.

Loew has already lost Werder Bremen midfielder Torsten Frings with a knee injury and Bayern Munich striker Lukas Podolski, who is recovering from a knee operation, now Ballack faces a race against time to prove his fitness.

"I will announce the team next Thursday: Frings and Podolski are definitely out, that is or sure," explained Loew.

"As for Michael Ballack, there is a lot of doubt he'll be ready, which is a huge pity for such a big game, but we have other options in the midfield," said Loew.

Germany face key qualifying games in their bid to reach next summer's European Championships in Austria and Switzerland when they travel to face Wales and the Republic of Ireland in September and October.

Loew, who replaced Juergen Klinsmann as German coach after last year's World Cup, says he is happy with his squad's progress.

"I am hoping certain players like Schalke 04's goalkeeper Manuel Neuer and defender Christian Pander, as well as VfB Stuttgart's defender Serdar Tasci, will continue their progress."

Loew said experienced forwards such as Gerald Asamoah and Sebastian Kehl could be set for recalls.