Sport Everton midfielder Ross Barkley will be offered a new improved contract for his breakthrough into the first team this season

Barkley has broken into the first-team this season and has been tipped for inclusion in Roy Hodgson's World Cup squad after making his England debut in September

Ballack backed by Löw to bounce back from injury and earn Germany recall

Germany coach Joachim Löw has said midfielder Michael Ballack can still return to the national team despite his latest injury setback. Ballack turns 34 later this month. He missed the World Cup with an ankle injury and now faces a six-week lay-off with a new leg injury.

Ballack's Germany career may be over says Low

Germany coach Joachim Low has raised doubts as to whether Michael Ballack will ever return to the national team following his latest injury setback.

Lee Dixon: It's a real no-brainer... Walcott will learn the winger's tricks that befuddle a full-back

This season he has been getting in behind defenders much more, and scoring goals because of it

France and Italy confront World Cup hangovers, too

It's not just England needing a good start to Euro qualifiers, while it's more hope than expectation for other home nations

Ballack misery in Leverkusen's humbling defeat

Michael ballack was substituted just after an hour as Bayer Leverkusen were crushed 6-3 at home by Borussia Moenchengladbach in the Bundesliga.

Ballack left out by Germany

Michael Ballack has been left out of the Germany squad for the Euro 2012 qualifiers against Belgium and Azerbaijan.

Ballack: I will be German captain again, no matter what Lahm says

Michael Ballack has warned Bayern Munich defender Philipp Lahm he fully intends to captain Germany in the Euro 2012 qualifying campaign. The 33-year-old, who joined former club Bayer Leverkusen on a free transfer in the summer, was ruled out of the World Cup by an ankle injury suffered on his last appearance for Chelsea, in the FA Cup final at Wembley in May.

Ancelotti welcomes back Essien, but what is his best position?

The £18.3m deal to sign the Brazilian midfielder Ramires has still to be completed but the return of Michael Essien to full fitness could prove a more telling development for Chelsea, come the end of the season.

The Fans' World Cup Verdict

Pank Overbeek (Netherlands)

27, manager of a Dutch bar in London, originally from Alphen aan den Rijn

We are very excited – I didn't think we would get further than the quarter-finals.

Low defends Lahm captaincy claims

Germany coach Joachim Low has defended his captain Philipp Lahm ahead of their World Cup semi-final encounter against Spain in Durban later today.

Schweinsteiger insists Spain are favourites

Bastian Schweinsteiger insists Spain are the favourites for tomorrow's World Cup semi-final encounter in Durban, despite Germany being the most impressive team in South Africa so far.

Lahm will not relinquish captaincy to Ballack

Germany's World Cup harmony was disrupted today after skipper Philipp Lahm said he had no intention of willingly giving up the captain's armband when Michael Ballack returns to fitness.

England made it easy for Germany, says Maradona

Argentina v Germany, 3.00pm, Cape Town, BBC1

Barcelona want to sign Germany star Ozil

Reports suggest Barcelona have stepped up their interest in Werder Bremen playmaker Mesut Ozil and are willing to offer cash plus Alex Hleb to secure the Germany international’s services.

Germans thrive when under pressure

"The World Cups of 20 and 16 years ago were garden parties compared to what is involved now, with the pressures that have developed. The increase in pressure seems continuous from one competition to the next. Now it is almost completely out of hand. In nearly all the countries of the world football is the most popular sport and today the media bring it to the masses and bring the feelings and demands of the masses back to those working in the game. It is my great fear that one day the World Cup will no longer be the sporting event [people] enjoy, it will become too big, too important, too hard on the people concerned, just impossible to go on with."

Latest stories from i100
Career Services

Day In a Page

A
Independent Travel
Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Seven Cities of Italy
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Prague, Budapest and Vienna
Lake Garda
Minoan Crete and Santorini
Prices correct as of 1 May 2015
General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

Crisp sales are in decline

As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'