Veteran midfielder Michael Ballack will discover next month whether he still has a future in the Germany team under coach Joachim Low, after being left out of the squad which will face Italy on Wednesday.
The 34-year-old played only his first 90 minutes last weekend for his Bundesliga club Leverkusen after a fractured leg in September kept him out of the game for four months. Yesterday, Low opted to leave him out of the 22-man squad to face the 2006 FIFA World Cup™ winners in Dortmund for Wednesday's friendly.
In his absence, Bayern Munich defender Philipp Lahm is expected to captain Germany, as he did at South Africa's FIFA World Cup.
"We all know that Michael was still missing something after he played his first 90 minutes following a long injury," Loew told German daily Bild. "He is still finding his rhythm and he has made a good impression. If everything runs accordingly, we will meet in the middle of March to look at what the next step is."
Ballack suffered a wretched 2010 as an injury to his right ankle, suffered in the FA Cup final for Chelsea, ruled him out of the FIFA World Cup, and he fractured his left leg on only his third game back.
He last played for Germany in March 2010 and has 98 caps, but in his absence the Germans finished third in South Africa and Bastian Schweinsteiger's formed a strong midfield partnership with Sami Khedira.
Loew plans to meet with Ballack before the UEFA EURO 2012 qualifier against Kazakhstan on 26 March. Germany play Australia in a friendly three days later.