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Ballack holds on to Germany captaincy

Bayer Leverkusen midfielder Michael Ballack is to remain captain of Germany once he returns from his injury lay-off, coach Joachim Low has confirmed.

The issue has been a hot topic in the country since Philipp Lahm took over the role for the World Cup in South Africa, which Ballack missed because of an ankle problem.

Both players had expressed their desire to wear the armband, but ahead of their opening Euro 2012 qualifier against Belgium in Brussels on Friday, Low has made his decision - and also confirmed his No. 1 goalkeeper.

"I have in the past days had a personal discussion with Ballack and I decided that Michael Ballack will continue being the captain of our team," Germany coach Joachim Low said.

Low came to the decision after talks with former Chelsea man Ballack, who turns 34 this month.

''After a personal, open and trustful talk with Michael Ballack, I have decided that Michael will continue to be captain of our team,'' he said. ''Philipp Lahm, who completed the task excellently at the World Cup, will be Michael's deputy. When Philipp is not there, Bastian Schweinsteiger will fill in.''

Neuer has gained the goalkeeping job full time after fulfilling the roll in South Africa. It means Ballack's club mate Rene Adler, who had been number one before missing out on the World Cup through injury, drops down the order.

''We said Rene Adler was the number one but that there was a chance for Manuel Neuer,'' said Low. ''We're now going with Manuel Neuer. As long as he's fit and playing well, he will play in the qualifiers.''

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