Berlin: Bayern Munich`s ex-Germany captain Philipp Lahm has said he expects to return after breaking his leg next February at the very earliest.
The 31-year-old fractured his leg just above the right ankle in training on November 18 and had a plate with six screws inserted to repair the injury.
He is set to miss Bayern`s training camp next month before the Bundesliga programme resumes on January 30 and says he will not rush back to playing.
"I won`t be back in January in any case," Lahm, who retired from international football after Germany won the World Cup in July, told German daily Bild.
"Perhaps in February or perhaps first of all in March, luckily there is no time pressure for me of a World Cup or a European Championships.
"So when it comes to the end of the season, I will be in top condition."
Bayern Munich coach Pep Guardiola hardly has to worry about Lahm`s absence in terms of the Bundesliga where the defending champions are seven points clear with the halfway stage approaching.
The Bavarian giants have already qualified for the Champions League`s last 16 as group winners ahead of next Wednesday`s final pool match at home to CSKA Moscow.
"It must be noted that we simply have everything under control," said Lahm.
"We`re not winning games by luck anymore this season.
"With this consistency and with tactical variations, we`ve never been this strong before."
Bayern`s nearest league rivals Wolfsburg are their first opponents after the January break, but Lahm expects Guardiola`s side to be German champions for the 25th time next May.
"The title is still far from being decided, but if we keep playing the way we are, there can only be one champion: FC Bayern Munich," he added.