Joachim Low has confirmed that Michael Ballack will remain his first-choice captain, despite being left out of their opening UEFA EURO 2012 qualifiers. The 33-year-old has been rested for the games against Belgium and Azerbaijan as he continues his recovery from the ankle injury that kept him out of the FIFA World Cup™.
In Ballack's absence, Philipp Lahm skippered Germany to third place at South Africa 2010 and thereafter revealed he wanted the armband on a permanent basis. However, Low has decided to keep faith with the Bayer Leverkusen attacking midfielder, who is expected to return for the EURO 2012 preliminaries against Turkey and Kazakhstan in October, provided he proves his fitness at club level.
"In the last few days, I have had an open and honest discussion with Michael Ballack, which lasted two hours," said the Germany coach. "I have decided that he will remain captain.
"He has had a long injury break, but I feel he still as plenty to offer this team. When he is not available, Philipp Lahm, who did very well at the World Cup, will be captain with Bastian Schweinsteiger as his deputy."
Ballack, who is now back in the Bundesliga after his contract at Chelsea expired at the end of last season, has something of a history of clashing with other players, as well as with Low.
Things have not got off to a flying start for the former Bayern Munich man, as Leverkusen were beaten 6-3 by Borussia Moenchengladbach on Sunday, with their No13 booed off when he was replaced in the second half.
Neuer keeps the jersey
Meanwhile, Low also stated that Schalke goalkeeper Manuel Neuer will remain between the posts for the national side, with Rene Adler and Tim Wiese battling to be the reserve goalkeeper.
"Manuel will remain in goal, but we are in a luxury position with three goalkeepers who all have international experience and in this area, we are very strong," he said.