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Ballack responds to Ferguson's statement

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The talented Michael Ballack has hit back at Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson's suggestion that Chelsea will be less of a threat in the upcoming season.

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

But the German player 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 French club 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.

"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.

"in fact, 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 team like last year and we can play a lot of systems."

Michael 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 clash against Portsmouth. I have players who can cover."

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