Ballack yet to fire


BERLIN, September 6 – Bayer Leverkusen coach Jupp Heynckes admitted Sunday he has no idea when Germany captain Michael Ballack will return to form after the ankle injury which ruled him out of the World Cup.Ballack has been left out of Germany’s first two Euro 2012 qualifying matches as he regains his fitness, missing last Friday’s win in Brussels when Belgium were beaten 1-0 and Tuesday’s game with Azerbaijan in Cologne.

Germany coach Joachim Loew has said Ballack will be captain when he returns and in his absence Bayern Munich’s Philipp Lahm skippers the side.

But Ballack’s two Bundesliga’s performances so far this season suggest he is short of full fitness.

"I cannot honestly say when he will be a force for my team," said Heynckes in the Sunday edition of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

"We saw in the games he has played that he still needs to get in shape to play consistently at this level.

"He should first try to get fit and then we’ll see what happens," added former Bayern boss Heynckes, who said he is annoyed about the media hype around Ballack’s return to the Bundesliga after his four-year stay at Chelsea.

Ballack, who turns 34 at the end of the month, has played in both Leverkusen’s opening Bundesliga matches, but has barely impacted on either game and was booed off in the 6-3 hammering by Moenchengladbach.

Germany play Turkey and Kazakhstan in more Euro 2012 qualifiers next month.