Ballack back in the treatment room
Injury-jinxed Bayer Leverkusen midfielder Michael Ballack faces a six-week lay-off after picking up a micro-fracture in his left shin after paying just 184 minutes for his new club.
Ballack learnt of the diagnosis following a scan on Sunday morning, less than 24 hours after a challenge by Hannover's Sergio Pinto had forced him to leave the pitch half an hour into his third Bundesliga fixture.
The Germany captain had only just recovered from the ankle injury which ruled him out of the World Cup and this latest injury setback hits his hopes of returning to the national team this year.
He was aiming to be part of coach Joachim Low's squad to face Turkey and Kazakhstan next month, but is now unlikely to be fit even for the final international match of 2010 against Sweden in November.
"I am really sorry for Michael that he has to deal with another injury setback," commented Low, who last week gave the 33-year-old his backing by confirming that he will be given the captain's armband when he returns to full fitness. "Obviously I wish him a quick and good recovery."
Ballack's career has been blighted by injury and he almost missed Euro 2008 due to an injury he picked up immediately prior to the tournament. He was a regular visitor to the Chelsea medical centre and spent much of his Bayern Munich career receiving treatment for a series of injuries.
"It is incredible what bad luck the lad has," Leverkusen's director of sport Rudi Voller told German newspaper Bild. "We are all shocked."