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Friedrich says German squad ready for World Cup without Ballack

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Friedrich says German squad ready for World Cup without Ballack
Photo: DPA
17:18 CEST+02:00
Germany's next generation of stars is ready to step up into the breach left by captain Michael Ballack, who was ruled out of the World Cup with an ankle injury, centre-back Arne Friedrich said Tuesday.

Chelsea midfielder Ballack, 33, suffered his tournament-ending injury in last month's FA Cup final which has dented his country's hopes of winning a fourth World Cup title. In his absence, 26-year-old Philipp Lahm takes over the captaincy and the Bayern Munich defender will have a "council" of other players around him.

Joachim Löw's Germany squad has an average age of just 25, but now is the time for the next generation to prove themselves as leaders, says Friedrich.

Lahm, vice-captain Bastian Schweinsteiger, striker Miroslav Klose, Hertha Berlin's Friedrich and fellow defender Per Mertesacker are part of the group which makes up the Germany team's players council.

Even with Ballack out, there is still plenty of leadership potential in the Germany squad as they are set to open their World Cup campaign against Australia in Durban on Sunday before taking on Serbia and Ghana in Group D.

"The captain's role has been distributed around, we have a players council and the older players will need to lead the way," said the 31-year-old Friedrich, who has 72 caps and has been in the Germany squad for eight years.

"I am part of the council, I have captained Hertha and I feel I can contribute. I am no longer just a player who runs up and down the line for 90 minutes. As a centre-back, it is my job to organise the defence and that is a position I am comfortable with."

While Friedrich may be comfortable calling the shots on the pitch and marshalling the defence, the German team have problems communicating off it here at their World Cup base near Pretoria.

"We have been all kitted out with mobiles and tried to phone each other, but they don't work," explained Friedrich.

"We have tried to call each other for fun, but the phones don't work so well. I can phone my girlfriend back in Berlin, but not my team-mates down here."

Problems with receiving phone calls is particularly a concern for Friedrich as clubs try to sign him for next season.

He is expected to leave Hertha Berlin in the wake of the World Cup following their relegation from the Bundesliga last season.

Friedrich said his agent is looking to find him a new club, but for now the World Cup remains his number one focus.

"The fact is a decision hasn't been made yet. I am likely to leave Hertha Berlin and join a new club," he said.

"My advisor is talking to the clubs who are interested in me, the talks have been very successful. I won't make any more comments until we have concrete information, but I am cool about the situation."

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