Chelsea midfielder Michael Ballack has dismissed Sir Alex Ferguson's claims that the Blues are 'past it'.

Ballack laughed off the Manchester United manager's comments, smiling: "Fergie's comments cannot be taken seriously.

"Football has never been about young or old players - it is about good or bad players. If you're 13 or 31 and good enough, you're not too young or old.

"I don't think Ferguson was talking about me or any other specific player. But 31 is no age for a footballer. Look at Claude Makelele - he was 35 yet still played well last season."

Andriy Shevchenko, 32 next month, and Carlo Cudicini, 35, are the only Chelsea players older than Ballack, who turns 32 in September.

But Ballack said after joining pre-season training yesterday: "I think this sort of thing happens in the summer. You tickle each other a bit."