Ballack to remain Germany captain

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BERLIN, September 1- Germany coach Joachim Loew has decided that veteran Michael Ballack will remain his first-choice captain despite being left out of their first two Euro 2012 qualifying games, Bild reported Wednesday."At the moment we have Bastian Schweinsteiger and Sami Khedira in defensive midfield," the newspaper quoted Loew as telling the team at a Frankfurt hotel on Tuesday evening.

"But when Michael comes back and makes it back into the team then he will also be captain. If Michael doesn’t play then Philipp (Lahm) is captain," Loew is cited as telling the players.

Ballack, 33, has been dropped for the first two games against Belgium away on Friday and Azerbaijan at home four days later as he continues his recovery from the ankle injury that kept him out of the World Cup.

Bayern Munich defender Lahm, 26, captained Germany in their highly successful World Cup campaign in South Africa, sweeping aside England 4-1 and Argentina 4-0 before losing to eventual winners Spain in the semi-finals.

Ballack, who is now back in Germany playing for Bayer Leverkusen ever his contract at Chelsea expired at the end of last season, has something of a history clashing with other players, as well as with Loew.

Things have not got off to a flying start for Ballack’s return to the Bundesliga, meanwhile. Bayer Leverkusen were beaten 6-3 by Moenchengladbach on Sunday — and Ballack was booed off when he was replaced in the second-half.

Germany also face Turkey, Austria and Kazakhstan in Group A for a guaranteed place at Euro 2012, which will be hosted by Ukraine and Poland.

Loew was due to make an official announcement at a news conference on Wednesday at 1030 GMT.

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