Germany head coach Joachim Low expects Michael Ballack to battle for a place in his team despite his fresh injury.
The experienced midfielder missed the World Cup finals in South Africa through injury and only recently returned to the Bayer Leverkusen line-up.
Ballack suffered a fresh injury in the weekend's action and is now expected to miss another six weeks of action, much to his frustration.
The 33-year-old, who turns 34 later this month, has been informed his international career is not over, although he has now slipped down Low's pecking order.
Bastian Schweinsteiger and Sami Khedira are Low's first-choice midfielders and he thinks Ballack may need to retire from international football somewhere down the line.
"Basically, I do think that Michael Ballack can come back again, because he is driven by an enormous ambition," said Low.
"But I have told him that Bastian Schweinsteiger and Sami Khedira are currently in front of him.
"Time is moving on, but younger players come through. That is for everyone, not only Michael Ballack.
"At some point, everyone must recognise the time has gone when you can produce top performances."
Meanwhile, the German football federation has confirmed Germany will play Australia in a friendly in Monchengladbach next March.
The teams met as recently as the summer when Germany beat Australia 4-0 in their opening group match at the World Cup.
Low is looking forward to a rematch with the Socceroos, now coached by Holger Osieck - an assistant to Franz Beckenbauer when West Germany won the 1990 World Cup.