Germany captain Ballack out of finals
Germany captain Michael Ballack has been ruled out of the World Cup with an ankle injury suffered in Saturday's FA Cup final victory over Portsmouth.
Ballack's injury was caused by a reckless tackle from Kevin-Prince Boateng. Boateng is in Ghana's squad for the summer showpiece in South Africa, with Germany drawn in the same group.
The Chelsea midfielder underwent an MRI scan in Munich on Monday which revealed ligament damage to his right ankle, ruling him out of action for two months.
Both Ballack and Germany coach Joachim Low feared the worst after the midfielder hobbled off at Wembley. He was due to have a scan on Sunday but there was too much swelling for an accurate diagnosis.
"National team captain Michael Ballack is out of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. This is the result of an MRI on Monday morning in Munich,'' read a statement from the German FA. "A tear of the medial collateral ligament of the right ankle was found. The right ankle is immobilised in a plaster. He will have to wear a special shoe for two weeks.
"After the diagnosis of national team doctor Hans-Wilhelm Muller-Wohlfahrt today, a complete healing of the injury is expected. Ballack's return to training is possible at the earliest in eight weeks.''
Ballack said following the FA Cup final. "It wasn't a good tackle," Ballack said. "I've seen it on TV and it didn't look a good tackle and when I was on the pitch, I knew it would be really difficult to carry on. I tried, but it wasn't possible. I've had a few injuries and if you can't carry on, that's always a bad sign. Sometimes it's bruising or sometimes it's a nerve that stops you.
"You could see when they started putting in a few hard tackles and didn't get a yellow card, they will carry on. I don't want to blame the Portsmouth players, but they were given the chance to play hard against us. But if it gets to the point where players are getting bad injuries, then it has to be stopped.
"If I was on the Portsmouth bench, I would have told them to play hard. There were a few tackles on [Nicolas] Anelka and there was no yellow card. There was another one by Michael Brown on [Frank] Lampard and from that, you can see they just want to kick players. So if you don't give them a yellow card, you can't stop them, so they carry on."
Low said on Sunday: "I have heard that nothing is broken, which is a relief, and that he will undergo a scan. I hope he gets good news from the hospital. Of course we need our captain. He has so much experience. He [Boateng] had no chance of getting the ball and a foul like that can seriously injure a player."
Former Germany boss Rudi Voller claimed Ballack was irreplaceable. Voller, who led the national team from 2000 to 2004, said in Bild: "It's brutal, terrible for Michael. He was full of optimism and wanted to play a good World Cup. There are players in the team who can't be replaced and Michael Ballack is certainly one of them .''
Meanwhile, Low has urged fans and the media to avoid a vendetta against Kevin-Prince's brother, Jerome Boateng.
Hamburg defender Jerome was named in the provisional squad last week and is almost certain to feature in the final 23-man party.
"I have spoken with Jerome Boateng,'' said Low. "I told him that we absolutely unreservedly stand by him. He is a member of the family. I ask everyone not to drag him into this."