Germany boss Joachim Low insists he is "100% convinced" Michael Ballack is not considering retiring from international football.
There has been speculation national team captain Ballack was set to call time on his 98-cap career, with the player himself having said in the past he might hang up his boots for good this year. The president of Bayer Leverkusen, whom Ballack joined from Chelsea this summer, also recently advised the 33-year-old to concentrate on club football.
However, Low believes Ballack will return to lead his country once he recovers from the ankle injury that has sidelined him since May's FA Cup final. Asked about the prospect of the midfielder retiring, Low said: "I am 100 per cent convinced that he won't do that. I don't know why he should. Of course there is a lot of speculation over the issue. I didn't have the feeling that Michael Ballack wants to retire from the national team."
FIFA World Cup captain Philipp Lahm will continue to deputise for Ballack when Germany play their second UEFA European Championship qualifier against Azerbaijan tomorrow night. Left-back Marcell Jansen is the only casualty from the team that beat Belgium 1-0 in Brussels in Friday's qualifying opener.
Germany will be expected to steamroll Azerbaijan tomorrow, as they did when the sides last met a year ago. "When I talk to the players, I get the impression that they want to put in a big performance," said Low, who will once again pit his wits against former Germany boss Berti Vogts. "Of course it would be a massive setback for us if we don't get the three points. But I am confident we will win."
Guus Hiddink's Turkey are already looking like being Germany's main rivals in the group following Friday night's 3-0 win over Kazakhstan. Tomorrow sees them take on Belgium looking to maintain Hiddink's 100 per cent record since taking charge. Gokham Gonul (shoulder) and Semih Senturk (thigh) both missed Friday's game and remain doubtful.
Sunderland goalkeeper Simon Mignolet replaces Glenn Verbauwhede in the Belgium squad having missed the Germany defeat while on U-21 duty. Like Azerbaijan, Austria play their opening qualifier tomorrow night and they will be looking to put down a marker in the group.