Holger Badstuber accepts that he faces an uphill battle to reclaim his place in the Germany squad for next summer's World Cup despite undergoing a successful knee operation on Monday.
The Bayern Munich defender, who has gone under the knife four times since tearing his cruciate ligament against Borussia Dortmund in December last year, is yet to appear for the Bundesliga champions this season.
Consequently, while he is in no doubt that he will make a full recovery from his latest surgery, he expects the World Cup to come too early for him.
"Brazil is a long way off for me," the 24-year-old told Focus.
However, Badstuber, who has been capped 30 times by his country, dismissed reports that he might never play competitive football again.
"The crutches are gone. With the therapy and exercises from nine until five every day, things are getting better," he enthused.
"The doctors have reassured me over and over again that the knee will be back in great shape and leave no lasting damage."