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Chelsea's Ballack facing THIRD ankle op

Chelsea midfielder Michael Ballack is facing a third operation on his ankle.

The Telegraph says Ballack's advisers dismissed the idea of a third operation yesterday, but Chelsea believe there is a 50-50 chance he will need more surgery.

Yesterday, Chelsea's position appeared to be vindicated when German sources admitted that the national team's medical staff had acknowledged that Ballack will not be fit next month.

They are awaiting the results of biomechanical tests carried out by the team's sponsors adidas last weekend, but there is now a feeling that he will not be ready to return until Germany's match against Cyprus in Hanover on Nov 17.

Both previous operations were carried out by Ludwig Seebauer, a doctor who specialises in shoulder surgery. Chelsea are puzzled as to why Ballack's ankle injury was treated by a shoulder surgeon.

With this and the adidas promotional shoot mix-up, Ballack looks increasingly likely to be sold in January. Yesterday the Real Madrid manager Bernd Schuster said he was keen on signing the midfielder if he was prepared to take a pay cut on his current £130,000-a-week salary.

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