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Zenit sign Bart Simpson

The Toe Poke 12 hours ago
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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Mar 6, 2011

Ballack refuses bench role

Bayer Leverkusen coach Jupp Heynckes has told Michael Ballack he must get used to being a substitute after he requested not to be considered for Saturday's match against Wolfsburg because he did not want to sit on the bench.

Bayer Leverkusen 3-0 Wolfsburg

Ballack informed Heynckes of his decision on Friday and, rather than taking his place on the bench at the BayArena for the game, he trained alone.

"He told me that, the way things are at the moment, he cannot help the team from the bench," Heynckes said. "Michael is not used to being on the bench. He has played his whole life in the starting XI, but things like this should be decided together."

Heynckes also revealed that Ballack could well have started the game had he not pulled out of the squad.

"Ballack did not know on Friday that we would have such health problems," Heynckes said, and he took a swipe at Ballack's attitude by explaining how Sami Hyypia had wanted to be with the squad at all costs, despite having intestinal flu.

"He still wanted to sit on the bench," Heynckes said. "He is a fantastic professional and I have never had anybody like him."

Leverkusen won the game 3-0 to return to second in the table, seven points clear of fourth-placed Bayern Munich and well on course for a place in the Champions League next season.

"We have taken an excellent opportunity to defend second spot and my team did that in a fantastic manner," Heynckes said.

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