Germany coach Joachim Low is confident Sami Khedira can step into Michael Ballack's boots at the World Cup.
Ballack is to miss the South Africa finals after suffering an ankle injury during Chelsea's FA Cup final victory over Portsmouth following a tackle by Kevin-Prince Boateng.
Despite the absence of his skipper, Low insists he will not be altering his system at the finals and believes Stuttgart midfielder Khedira can step up.
The coach told Bild: "It can be assumed that Khedira is the number-one candidate for this (Ballack's) position.
"He has a great deal of potential and is a player who has already been given a lot of responsibility at Stuttgart. He also shows that he has matured."
Low also expects key players to step up in Ballack's absence, including Bayern Munich's Bastian Schweinsteiger, who is set to partner Khedira in the heart of the midfield.
"I expect other players to take over accordingly," Low said. "You have got to demand that.
"Bastian Schweinsteiger will have even more responsibility, for example, and also Philipp Lahm, Miroslav Klose and Per Mertesacker have got to exceed themselves.
"It is often the case that others step forward when a leading player drops out and this could also be the chance for other players.
"We need a reaction like that ahead of the World Cup."
Germany kick off their campaign against Australia on 13h June and also face Serbia and Ghana in their group.
While the three-times winners have an excellent pedigree in the tournament, Low is playing down his side's chances, especially with Ballack ruled out.
"That is why we are not talking about the World Cup title," he said.
"We have set ourselves the goal of playing a good World Cup and there is no point in building up the pressure by setting targets.
"Our first stage will be the group phase, which is going to be hard enough."
Low has also backed strikers Lukas Podolski and Klose to defy their critics and impress at the World Cup.
The Cologne and Bayern Munich strikers have only mustered five goals between them in the Bundesliga season but Low has retained faith in the pair.
Having had Podolski in the national team training camp for almost a fortnight, Low said: "We have seen that he is in a physically very good condition and he is a player who can help decide games.
"He does decisive things on the field. Lukas is going to explode at the World Cup."
While Klose has remained on Bayern duty due to the UEFA Champions League final and will only report to the national team on Wednesday, Low is equally convinced of his qualities.
"I know that I can have a lot of faith in him," said Low.
"He has always paid back faith with quality. He will have a lot of work to do in the coming days, but I know that Miro's style of play and his quality can be important for us."