Almost a forgotten man at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea midfielder Michael Ballack was set to make his long-awaited return Wednesday against Liverpool in the English League Cup following an eight-month injury layoff. In an interview with German newspaper Die Zeit, the Germany captain reveals the ankle injury almost ended his playing career. "Sometimes I thought: 'Man, you are 31 years old, you've had 14 good years as a pro. Maybe it's over.'" Since the injury last April, Ballack has undergone two operations on his damaged ankle.
"Ballack is available," Chelsea manager Avram Grant revealed on Tuesday. "He's a good player and we miss him. He's available and has a lot of qualities. He'll be in the squad tomorrow." The Blues also welcome back holding midfielder Michael Essien, who returns from suspension, but they will miss England captain John Terry, who fractured three bones in his foot against Arsenal last weekend and could miss up to six weeks.