Ballack is back
Ballack came through 45 minutes of a reserve game against Birmingham with no obvious ill-effects.
The 31-year-old German captain is well on his way to recovering from his double opeartion on his ankle and will be available in a couple of weeks for a return to first-team action.
He said: "I feel good. I'll train next week, then maybe have another reserve game. I'm looking forward to playing in the first team."
Meanwhile he might be replacing Michael Essien who was red-carded for a stupid slap in the face of Derby's Kenny Miller player on Saturday.
Essien, 24, is appealing the card but misses three games - Sunderland, West Ham and Premier League leaders Arsenal.
It's the Arsenal game where Ballack could make his lob-awaited return.