Germany coach Joachim Low is to summon captain Michael Ballack to Germany to discuss his future with the national team in the wake of damaging comments made in a newspaper interview.
Ballack accused Low of lacking respect for older players such as Torsten Frings in an interview with the Frankfurter Allgemeine Newspaper earlier this week.
The Chelsea midfielder is unhappy with the way Frings and Kevin Kuranyi have been sidelined by Low, suggesting they have been treated with a lack of respect and asking: Where are we going to end up?''
These remarks have left Low seething and he wants to speak to Ballack face to face.
He said today: I will telephone Michael Ballack and summon him for a talk in Germany.
(I will) tell him that I am hugely disappointed with the route he has chosen and that the remarks he has made are unacceptable.''
Ballack's future as Germany captain and his whole international career are riding on the discussion and Low has not ruled excluding Ballack in the same way as he ended Kuranyi's international career, at least temporarily, 10 days ago.
My decision depends on what happens in this discussion,'' revealed Low. We will just have to wait and see where we go.
We have often encouraged Michael Ballack to speak up about the things he, as captain, sees critically, but for him to use the media to criticise our work is completely wrong and cannot be accepted.''
Low did not play Frings in the recent World Cup qualifiers against Russia and Wales.
And Kuranyi was told he would not play for Germany again while Low is in charge after he left the Westfalenstadion at half-time of their World Cup qualifying victory over Russia because he was left out of the 18-man matchday squad.
Low said: No player, not even the captain, has the right to criticise the coach in reference to his team selection and choices or to even revolt against the coaching team publicly.
It seems that the term 'respect' goes hand in hand with an automatic place in the starting XI.
But there are other personal and tactical things that a coach must consider when he makes his decisions.
The coaching team will not accept anybody saying we lack respect.''
Among other things, Ballack said of Frings' omission: If you don't want anybody any longer, then you should just say so honestly. Respect and loyalty is the least a worthy national player can expect.''
He also expressed his disappointment at not having been contacted by Low since undergoing foot surgery.