Germany coach Joachim Low has reassured Michael Ballack that he remains part of his plans despite dropping him for their opening Euro 2012 qualifiers.
Ballack missed Friday's win over Belgium and he will not be involved for Tuesday's qualifier against Azerbaijan in Cologne as he works his way back to fitness after an ankle injury.
Sami Khedira filled the void left by Ballack during the World Cup and he impressed in South Africa, raising question marks about Ballack's international future.
However, Low remains firmly behind Ballack and has already indicated that the Bayer Leverkusen man will regain the captaincy from Philipp Lahm when he returns to the squad.
"I hope the team continues to grow, and that certainly includes Michael," Low told Bild.
"We must acknowledge that Michael is not yet able to help us, that was clear in his first match (with Bayer Leverkusen in the Bundesliga) since his ankle injury.
"Our team progressed enormously during the World Cup, some players like Sami Khedira and Bastian Schweinsteiger raised their game.
"But I thought about it calmly and it was clear that Michael should remain captain."
Low refused to confirm whether Ballack will return for October's qualifiers against Turkey and Kazakhstan.
"We must evaluate the situation closer to the time, but the issue was not discussed during my conversations with him," added Low.