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Page last updated at 11:01 GMT, Saturday, 26 July 2008 12:01 UK

Chelsea not too old, says Ballack

Michael Ballack
Ballack had a break after Euro 2008

Michael Ballack has hit back at Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson's suggestion that Chelsea will be less of a threat next season.

Ferguson said that he did not expect to see "outstanding progress coming from a team in their 30s".

But Blues midfielder Ballack, 31, said: "Our team can still improve. If you are 30 or 31 you are not old.

"Claude Makelele was 34 and played well last season. This sort of banter occurs between people during the summer."

Makelele, now 35, switched to Paris St Germain on Monday, while Ballack has recently joined up with the Chelsea squad on tour in the Far East after helping Germany reach the final of Euro 2008.

He is looking forward to working with new Blues boss Luiz Felipe Scolari at Stamford Bridge.

Phil McNulty
"It is different, you know someone for a few moments but now we are together every day and I am looking forward to it," he added.

"We have only talked for a few minutes since he took over but he is a nice person. He is a successful coach and that is why he is here.

"He has not spoken to me about his philosophy but we have a good squad like last year and we can play a lot of systems."

Ballack also revealed that he would like England midfielder Frank Lampard to remain at the club next season. The 30-year-old former West Ham star has been linked with a move to Inter Milan during the summer transfer window.

"It would be fantastic if he could stay at Chelsea," stated Ballack.

"He is a big player for the club and has done a lot for the club but it is up to him. He knows we are all behind him."

Meanwhile, Chelsea defender Jose Bosingwa is facing three weeks on the sidelines after tearing a thigh muscle on his debut and is poised to miss the Premier League opener against Portsmouth on 17 August.

The 25-year-old, who joined the Blues in a 16.2m move from Porto in May, managed only 20 minutes against Chinese Super League side Guangzhou Pharmaceutical on the Far East tour before suffering the problem.

He was sent for a scan in Macau and it was then decided to send him back to England for treatment.

Blues boss Scolari confirmed: "He is out for two weeks minimum for treatment and he won't be able to play for three weeks.

"At the moment, he is out of the first game against Portsmouth. I have players who can cover."

see also
Inter continue chase for Lampard
26 Jul 08 |  Chelsea
Ferguson not keen on London role
25 Jul 08 |  Football
Southend target Chelsea's Grant
25 Jul 08 |  Southend
Scolari will ignore mind games
23 Jul 08 |  Football

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