Bayern Munich playmaker Michael Ballack will be out for at least six weeks after sustaining an ankle injury in a 3-0Bundesliga victory over Bayer Leverkusen on Saturday.

Ballack, who was substituted midway through the first half, had damaged ligaments on his left ankle and will have to wear plaster for the next fortnight. As well as missing several Bundesliga matches for Bayern, Ballack’s will be unavailable for Germany when they face Lithuania in a EURO 2004 qualifier on March 29.

Thankfully for Bayern, the injury will have little impact on their domestic ambitions; Saturday’s win took them 13 points clear at the top of the German first division and they are now within signt of yet another title success. For Leverkusen, the defeat sends last season’s runners-up perilously cose to the relegation zone.

The leaders, who also knocked Leverkusen out of the German Cup in midweek, strolled to victory with Claudio Pizarro and Goivanne Elber combining to deadly effect to secure the points.

Bayern’s cause was helped at the weekend as several of the leading contenders stumbled.

Last season’s champions Borussia Dortmund,fell further behind Bayern when they lost 1-0 to struggling Borussia Monchengladbach. On loan Finnish striker Mikael Forssell, scoring the only goal of the game to move his side out of the bottom three and ahead of 15th-placed Leverkusen.

Elsewhere, Stuttgart squandered the opportunity to go above Dortmund, when they were held 1-1 by Hamburg.