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Everton stand firm over Stones to Chelsea

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Ballack injury not as serious as expected

Germany captain Michael Ballack has given Chelsea a massive boost after revealing his ankle injury is not as bad as was first feared.

The Chelsea midfielder sustained the problem in a first-half collision with Blues team-mate Yuri Zhirkov during Germany's 1-0 qualifying win in Moscow.

The victory ensured Germany's place in the finals next summer and Ballack quickly refuted suggestions that the injury would rule him out for a significant period.

He will be fit enough to play against Aston Villa on Saturday and could even figure in Germany's clash with Finland on Wednesday.

"It is not that serious as we had thought,'' Ballack said. "During the match it was pretty much aching, but afterwards it was not. It is pretty fine now though.

"I believe I could be ready for the match on Wednesday as thankfully it was not a big thing.''

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