Ballack winning fitness battle for season opener

August 15, 2006

Chelsea midfielder Michael Ballack is winning his fitness battle ahead of Sunday's Premiership opener against Manchester City.

Ballack took a bang on the hip early in the 2-1 Charity Shield defeat by Liverpool and is receiving treatment for the injury.

Ballack will not play any part in Germany's international friendly with Sweden tomorrow night, increasing his chances of facing City.

'The injury is a painful bruise and there is some swelling around the hip,' Ballack told the club's website.

'I have to wait and see what happens in the next few days, but I'm hoping it'll be okay for the Manchester City game.'

A doubt also remains over Michael Essien who broke a small bone in his wrist against Liverpool but the Ghana midfielder insists he will be ready for Sunday.

'I had a scan yesterday afternoon. They say it is a fracture but not too serious,' he told the London Evening Standard.

'It is a little bit sore but not enough to stop me playing. I didn't have much of a summer holiday but I'm fit and ready for the new season.'