World Cup Countdown: No Frings to replace Ballack

23 days to go
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The Independent Football

Germany assistant manager Oliver Bierhoff has reiterated that Torsten Frings' international career is over. The 32-year-old Werder Bremen midfielder was told by Joachim Löw in January that his international career was over, however, Michael Ballack's ankle injury provoked new speculation of a return. Bierhoff made the German position on Frings clear, however. "The coaching team reached the conclusion that Torsten does not belong in our national team squad."

Italy have trimmed their provisional 30-man squad to 28 after manager Marcelo Lippi cut Juventus defender Fabio Grosso and Udinese midfielder Antonio Candreva. Grosso, 32, scored the decisive penalty for the Azzurri in their 2006 World Cup-winning campaign. It seems that the pair were judged surplus to Lippi's requirements.

Switzerland left-back Christoph Spycher has pulled out of the World Cup squad after failing to overcome a knee injury. The 32-year-old, who has 47 international caps, announced that: "After consultation with the doctors and physios I had no other choice but to inform the coach that he must plan without me." The Swiss coach Ottmar Hitzfeld has selected FC Zurich defender Ludovic Magnin for the 23-man squad.

Highlights of the day

Quote of the day

"He is overweight. What's the point in having a player who isn't in good physical condition and is therefore useless to the coach?"

South African fitness coach Francisco Gonzalez encourages West Ham striker Benni McCarthy to lay off the Biltong and shape up if he wants to play in the World Cup

Nickname of the day

"I try and work as hard as possible on the training field and off it. I'm in the gym a lot. The key is just looking after yourself."

The oldest player in the Australian squad, goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer, explains how he has obtained the nickname "The Schwarzenegger"

Prediction of the day

"I made sure he knows how it's going to be USA 3 England 0."

Jozy Altidore talks down England's chances to David Beckham. The Hull City striker is clearly high in confidence after his magnificent two-goal tally for the season