Borussia Dortmund midfield Ilkay Gundogan has denied suggestions that his long-standing back injury could threaten his career, or even his season.
The Germany international has made just three appearances for his club this season and was injured while representing his country against Paraguay in August.
His return from injury has been repeatedly put off, but the 23-year-old is still hopeful of playing a part before the current campaign ends.
"I'm working hard and intensely for my comeback, but people don't see it because I'm usually in the gym," he told Bild.
"I want to help the guys this season, of course! I'm only thinking of my return to the BVB team. An infection in January set me back - I had previously been back in training.
"But I'm sure that I will soon be back playing top-level football. And then comes the World Cup. Is my career over? Obviouly not!"
Gundogan also admitted that his time on the sidelines had been mentally taxing for him.
"Such a long period out has been a real burden. It's a tough period - the toughest of my career. For me it's very important that I see the light at the end of tunnel.
"Sometimes you have to go tough such tough times. Just like Bastian Schweinsteiger, who has just returned after a long time out."
Gundogan went on to reiterate that he will discuss his future once his return from injury is complete, but will talk to BVB before making a decision either way.
"Even if you don't believe me, all of my strength is dedicated to BVB and being a part of the team again. Everything else is irrelevant.
"I have always promised that my first contact will be with Borussia Dortmund and I'm true to my word!"