Ballack: Germany strong enough without me

MUNICH - Germany can overcome the absence of injured captain Michael Ballack with younger players taking on more responsibility at the World Cup, the Chelsea midfielder said on Tuesday.

The 33-year-old Ballack picked up an ankle injury in Saturday's FA Cup final against Portsmouth, limping off during his team's 1-0 win after a late tackle by Kevin-Prince Boateng.

Despite being ruled out for eight weeks and missing what would have been his third World Cup, Ballack flew to Germany's pre-tournament training camp in Italy to support his team.

"Clearly on the one hand when the captain is out then it is difficult for any team and I have been there many years, a very experienced player for a young team," he said in an interview with the German football federation.

"But on the other hand maybe it will give the team a boost.

"Individual players will advance faster and demand more from themselves. That is what needs to happen now. Players who had responsibilities will take on more. We have proved in the past that when it matters we rise to the occasion."

Germany have been drawn with Serbia, Australia and Ghana in Group D at the tournament starting on June 11 in South Africa.

"The team has the quality and hopefully will play a good tournament," Ballack, wearing a Germany shirt and tracksuit, said.

Germany coach Joachim Low has yet to decide whether to call up another player but he will need to reshuffle to cover the absence of his most influential midfielder.

Ballack ruled out international retirement with Euro 2012 qualifying due to start after the World Cup.

"I want to become healthy as quickly as possible and use this break to fill up with energy as this was a long season," he said after winning the league and cup double with Chelsea.

"I still feel fit and have played at a high level at Chelsea the past few years and want to continue doing that. As long as I can do that why should I stop from the national team?"

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