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Boost for Chelsea as injured Ballack returns for Community Shield
Published : 04 Aug 2009 11:56:07
Michael Ballack is in contention to face Manchester United in the Community Shield on Sunday, handing new Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti a major boost on the eve of the new Premier League season. The German international midfielder has returned to training after fracturing a toe just a few days into the club's pre-season tour to the USA last month. Ballack has missed Chelsea's last four friendly games but has made a rapid recovery from the problem and will provide strong competition for one of the places in the midfield diamond formation Ancelotti is set to use. He put in some physical work on his own at the club's training ground while his team-mates took on Reading at the weekend, however he joined in with the rest of the squad's session as normal yesterday. Manager Ancelotti has confirmed Ballack is not only on course to start the Premier League campaign against Hull on 15 August but could face United on Sunday. He said: 'For the next match against United he will be ready.' Ancelotti admits he already has his team in mind that will be good enough to beat Sir Alex Ferguson's side and lay down a marker for the start of the season in the process. Chelsea have gone five games unbeaten in pre-season so far and Ancelotti added: 'I have more or less the team that will play in my mind. We have this week before the game and I want to control the physical condition of all my players. 'We have to improve a little over the next week but I'm happy with the condition of the team.' Chelsea will be without Joe Cole due to a long-standing knee problem but have confirmed they will not be selling him to Tottenham. Spurs are still interested in buying the England winger but Chelsea are determined to keep Cole and were close to handing him a new four-year deal. His latest injury setback put contract talks on hold temporarily, though Chelsea have still taken the unusual step of insisting the former West Ham star is not for sale. A club statement said: 'Chelsea is not, and will not be, considering any offers for Joe Cole. Our sole focus, as is Joe's, is to get him fit as soon as possible.' The 27-year-old is set to stay as Chelsea's interest in Franck Ribery is unlikely to end with a successful transfer from Bayern Munich. The French international, who is set to miss the start of the Bundesliga season on Saturday due to a minor knee injury, has been valued at a massive 100million euros by the German club, which Chelsea won't pay. Meanwhile, striker Franco di Santo, 20, has joined Blackburn on loan until 1 January. The Blues hope he will gain vital first-team experience before returning ahead of the African Nations' Cup, which will see forwards Didier Drogba and Salomon Kalou absent for around six weeks. Kalou has been strongly linked with an £8m move to Arsenal but has insisted he is looking forward to playing in Chelsea's new system with two strikers up front this season.