Germany boss Joachim Low has been left 'astonished and disappointed' by Michael Ballack's comments over the treatment of Torsten Frings.
Werder Bremen midfielder Frings, who has won 78 caps for his country, found himself on the substitutes' bench in both of Germany's recent World Cup qualifiers against Russia and Wales.
Chelsea's Ballack was critical of the decision and called for 'respect and loyalty' for his compatriot, but Low has defended his actions.
"I am very surprised by Michael Ballack's comments," Low said in an official DFB-statement.
"I am astonished and disappointed by the fact that he has chosen to make his critical comments via the media.
"He is the captain and therefore an important player for me to discuss things with and nothing will change there. But the team line-up will remain the decision of myself and my team.
"We treat all squad members with the appropriate respect, irrespective of whether they are young or old."