FRANKFURT // The Germany captain Michael Ballack said he is ready to meet with Joachim Low to discuss their differences. With Low's authority under attack, Kicker football magazine suggested that Ballack was under threat of losing not only the captaincy but also his place in the side. "I am pleased that the coach is again seeking a dialogue with me," Ballack told Bild newspaper. "And I am looking forward to the talk. I am ready any time for this head-to-head talk."
But Ballack said the German federation officials had to ask his club Chelsea to find a date for the talk. Low wants to summon Ballack to a crisis meeting after the captain went public with his criticism of the coach for leaving fellow midfielder Torsten Frings out of the last two World Cup qualifiers. Frings supported Ballack and blasted Low after Werder Bremen's Champions League 2-2 draw with Panathinaikos in Athens. Frings said: "Michael Ballack has the right to speak openly. He is the captain of the team and he notices when something is not correct. You should be able to express your opinion.
"If Michael Ballack can't say anything anymore, then no one can. It's not for nothing that experienced players are angry, that they are upset and that they are asking for something. Perhaps one should ask why is that." Frings has made 78 appearances for Germany but played only seven minutes in the 2-1 win over Russia on Oct 11 in Group 4 and did not come off the bench in the 1-0 win over Wales four days later, prompting Frings to consider retirement. This led to Ballack speaking out.
The Chelsea star played in the last two qualifiers, then had surgery to remove thickened nerves from both feet. He claimed Low never called him after the operation. Low reacted angrily. He said: "I will talk with Michael Ballack by phone and summon him to a meeting in Germany to tell him that I am extremely disappointed by the path he has chosen and that his comments are not acceptable. "I will not put up with this and will insist on having this discussion. My decision (on future action) depends on how this meeting goes."
The federation said Low hopes to meet Ballack 'as soon as possible'. Low has opened a competition for places in the starting team by giving younger players a chance, especially in midfield where he has several options, such as Piotr Trochowski, Simon Rolfes and Thomas Hitzlsperger. *AP