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Milan lack midfield in derby

AC Milan
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By ESPN Staff

Löw criticism threatens Ballack's role as skipper

BERLIN, Oct 22 (Reuters) - Germany coach Joachim Löw summoned Michael Ballack to a meeting on Wednesday and hinted strongly that his future as captain was under threat after the midfielder criticised him in a newspaper interview.

Löw said in a strongly worded statement that he would wait to speak to Ballack in person before taking any action, after the Chelsea player made what Loew called "unacceptable" comments calling for senior players to be shown more respect.

"I will tell Michael that I'm extremely disappointed about the route he has chosen to take, and that his comments are unacceptable," Löw said in a statement released by the German Football Association on Wednesday.

"I will insist on the meeting ... My decision on everything else will depend on how that conversation goes."

Ballack, speaking in an interview with FAZ newspaper, was critical of the coach's handling of selection issues in the squad after his midfield colleague Torsten Frings was dropped for the last two World Cup qualifiers.

"If you don't want someone any more you should say so openly," Ballack said when asked about his midfield colleague.

"Respect and loyalty are the least you can expect as an experienced national team player," added Ballack, who said he hoped Frings would decide to prolong his international career.

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