Bayer Leverkusen midfielder Michael Ballack has expressed his frustration at having to wait to make his comeback from an injury that has kept him out of action since September.
The 34-year-old damaged his left leg on the third weekend of the Bundesliga season, four months after an ankle injury suffered at former club Chelsea ruled him out of Germany's World Cup campaign.
Having been unavailable for half of the year, he has lost his status as a first-choice player for the national side, but ex-Bayern Munich man Ballack is determined to force his way back.
"I'm not using my crutches anymore and it's a step that does the world of good, because there's nothing worse than being condemned to inactivity and waiting," Ballack told the German Football League's official website.
"I can finally work towards a precise goal and even though the rehabilitation is monotonous, I can see that I'm progressing day by day.
"It's motivating, but I can't wait to finally start kicking a ball again."
Meanwhile, Leverkusen general manager Rudi Voller has admitted that he is going to talk to Germany international Patrick Helmes this week after the striker criticised the selection policy of manager Jupp Heynckes.
Voller told BILD: "We are going to talk to Patrick Helmes on Tuesday. Patrick should have said that he has to accept being a substitute after his mediocre performances in recent weeks."
Helmes has been frequently injured in the past 18 months and so far this season he has scored three goals in eight Bundesliga appearances.