Michael Ballack has cancelled his Christmas holiday in a bid to be fit come January.
The Bayer Leverkusen midfielder is still on crutches after fracturing a bone in his knee on 11th September, which came in just his third game back in the Bundesliga after being ruled out of the World Cup through an ankle injury he suffered with Chelsea in May.
While the rest of the Leverkusen squad can expect a few days off over the Christmas period with the Bundesliga's winter break set to start on 20th December, Ballack will be working hard to regain full fitness.
Leverkusen are set to resume their Bundesliga campaign at home to Borussia Dortmund on 15th January and Ballack, 34, is eager to boost Jupp Heynckes's squad heading into the business end of the season.
"My goal is to play in the second half of the season," he said. "Then I will be back on the pitch to help the boys.
"We have plenty of stress in spring - hopefully with crucial games in the Bundesliga, Europa League and the German Cup."
Striker Stefan Kiessling is also out injured after suffering ankle ligament damage against his former club Nurnberg last month and Leverkusen's director of sport, Rudi Voller, confirmed he too is battling to return in the New Year.
"The other players will get a few days of winter vacation, but Michael and Stefan will spend their holiday time in the rehabilitation centre," Voller told German daily Bild.
"They are doing their best to be back fit for when training resumes after the break, both are working like a dog to come back."
Once fit again, Ballack is hoping to add to his tally of 98 international appearances and regain the German captaincy.
"Before the latest injury, Michael was on the road to finding his best form," said club coach Heynckes. "Now he has a lot of hard work to do again."