Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

New Ballack Blow Adds to Chelsea's Growing Injury Crisis

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

New Ballack Blow Adds to Chelsea's Growing Injury Crisis

Article excerpt

Byline: LEO SPALL

CHELSEA'S injury problems increased today when Michael Ballack joined the list of doubtfuls for Saturday's game against Middlesbrough.

The midfielder was taken off with a thigh strain before the break during Germany's 3-1 victory over Switzerland last night and admitted he was in pain and "not feeling well" at the end.

Chelsea head coach Jose Mourinho has already lost Wayne Bridge to a similar injury this week and has Ashley Cole and Joe Cole out long-term. He also has doubts about John Terry and Arjen Robben completing a full game on Saturday.

Ballack said: "It is definitely a strain, but I hope it's not serious.

"We have to wait and see in the next few days how the pain is. It is annoying. I've been getting through the season quite well in terms of injuries so picking up a knock in a friendly like this is unfortunate."

Kevin Kuranyi opened the scoring and Mario Gomez crowned his international debut with a goal on the half-hour mark, before Torsten Frings put the issue beyond doubt with a free-kick in the 66th. Marco Streller replied for the Swiss.

There was better news for a former Chelsea striker last night as Adrian Mutu scored the second goal in Romania's 2-0 win over Moldova.

The Fiorentina forward, sacked by Chelsea in 2004 after testing positive for cocaine, struck three minutes from time in Bucharest to claim his 22nd goal in 50 internationals.

The match has been hastilyarranged after Romania's scheduled friendly against Italy was cancelled following the ban imposed by Italian authorities after the death of a policeman in Catania last week.

Next month, Romania take on Holland in a Euro 2008 qualifier and Marco van Basten's side warmed up for that match with a thumping 4-1 win over Russia in Amsterdam.

It was a remarkable scoreline given that injury robbed the Dutch of nine first-choice players, including Chelsea's Robben, Arsenal's Robin van Persie and Manchester United goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar.

Goals came from Ryan Babel, Wesley Sneijder, Joris Mathijsen and Rafael van der Vaart. Vladimir Bistrov replied for Russia.

Coach Van Basten said: "We looked secure with our starting line-up but it didn't work out as we planned, so we made some changes at halftime. …

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