Ballack undergoes fitness regime
Michael Ballack is undergoing a fitness regime in an attempt to regain a Bayer Leverkusen first team place.
By Thomas Zocher
Last Updated: 09/03/11 3:26pm
Former Chelsea midfielder Michael Ballack is undergoing an individual fitness regime in an attempt to regain a position in Bayer Leverkusen's first team.
The German has only played in eight Bundesliga matches since his free transfer to the BayArena in the summer.
Ballack was sidelined for several months after fracturing a bone in his knee in only his third match of this season and he has suffered a number of other setbacks.
But Leverkusen did not struggle in his absence and boss Jupp Heynckes' side sit second in the league behind runaway leaders Borussia Dortmund.
Ballack has had to settle for a place among the substitutes as a result and the 34-year-old is not happy with the situation, according to Leverkusen general manager Rudi Voller.
"Michael has told Jupp Heynckes that he is not the kind of player to start a match on the bench in order to be put in later on," Voller told Sky Deutschland television.
Heynckes said: "I have three to four midfielders in a better shape and with a better standard of performance than Michael Ballack at the moment. I am the manager, I have to pick the team based on performance criteria."
One player who will definitely be unavailable for selection is former Germany international Manuel Friedrich after the defender was ruled out for an indefinite period due to a broken shoulder blade sustained against Wolfsburg.
Leverkusen spokesperson Dirk Mesch told kicker: "Manuel Friedrich's injury is tricky.
"It's true he will be out and it's hard to predict when he will be able to return to first-team training. This is likely going to take weeks."