German international 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.
"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 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."
The former Chelsea and Bayern Munich player is expected to return to first-team action in January. Ballack, 34, injured his left leg on the third weekend of the Bundesliga season, four months after an ankle injury ruled him out of Germany's campaign at the World Cup.
Having been unavailable for half of the year, he has lost his status as a first-choice player for the national side, but national coach Joachim Loew says he will be given back the captain's armband when he returns to the squad.
Meanwhile, Ballack believes his club, who are currently second in the German top flight, are in a good position to launch a bid for the title.
"We've beaten (leaders Borussia) Dortmund at our stadium and we have lots of quality," said the midfielder, whose team host Bayern later on Saturday. "I think we're yet to reach our top level."