Germany captain Michael Ballack has been ruled out of the World Cup finals with an ankle injury, the German Football Federation have confirmed.
The 33-year-old Chelsea midfielder underwent an MRI in Munich on Monday morning to assess the damage suffered in Saturday's FA Cup final - following a heavy challenge from Portsmouth's Kevin-Prince Boateng - and the scan showed ligament damage to his right ankle.
"National team captain Michael Ballack is out of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. This is the result of an MRI on Monday morning in Munich," read a statement from the DFB.
Ballack is expected to be out of action for eight weeks.
The statement continued: "A tear of the medial collateral ligament of the right ankle was found. The right ankle is immobilised in a plaster. He will have to wear a special shoe for two weeks.
"After the diagnosis of national team doctor Hans-Wilhelm Muller-Wohlfahrt, a complete healing of the injury is expected. Ballack's return to training is possible at the earliest in eight weeks."
The news will come as a massive blow to Germany coach Joachim Low.
Before the diagnosis was known, he told www.dfb.de: "When we found out about the injury on Saturday we were all very concerned. We had no accurate picture of what had happened.
"The good news is that nothing is broken. But he has a lot of pain and is restricted in his movement.
"We need clarity but we obviously hope the injury proves to be nothing serious. Michael is our captain and one of our leading players."
Copyright (c) PA Sport 2009, All Rights Reserved.
Do YOU want to write for GiveMeSport? Get started today by signing-up and submitting an article HERE: http://gms.to/writeforgms