Bayern Leverkusen captain Michael Ballack will not play again this year after his leg injury turned out to be more serious than first thought.
The Germany international was expected to return in late October after fracturing his shinbone last month in Leverkusen's 2-2 draw with Hannover.
However, the club has announced the 34-year-old midfielder will be sidelined until after the winter break. h
"This development is very unfortunate," Leverkusen head coach Jupp Heynckes told the club's official website.
"I hope Michael Ballack will return to the team strengthened after the winter break and his rehab program."
Leverkusen revealed Ballack's lengthy absence is the result of a medical test which showed the injury to be worse than expected.
A club statement read: "He will need to wear a splint for four to six weeks to keep the pressure off the knee."
Ballack, who joined Leverkusen following a four-year stint at Chelsea, has not played for Germany since injuring his ankle in May, a knock which ruled him out of the World Cup finals in the summer.