Chelsea's Ballack: I'm close to return

Chelsea midfielder Michael Ballack hopes to return to training in the coming weeks.

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Ballack, 31, has been struggling to regain full fitness after undergoing two operations on his damaged ankle.

But Ballack said: "It's getting better, I keep going with my rehab programme, I can train outside and I am quite happy now with the way we work.

"I work very hard and I hope that I can come back soon," he told Chelsea TV.

Ballack has been running in a sandpit to try to hasten his recovery rate but admits it is tough going.

He added: "It is very hard for the condition but it is good for the foot so it is part of my programme now.

"It is much better; I had to wait a long time to be at this level now, so I am happy. I hope in a few weeks I will be back on the pitch, I can train with the team and also be playing."

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