Borussia Dortmund's Marco Reus 'optimistic' about World Cup spot
Borussia Dortmund winger Marco Reus will not rush his comeback from injury in the hope of earning himself a place in Germany's squad at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
Having been ruled out of both the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 European Championship through injury, Reus hopes he can finally feature for Germany at a big tournament for the first time since 2012.
The 28-year-old is closing in on his comeback following knee surgery last June for a partial cruciate ligament tear suffered in the DFB Pokal final in May, and last week made a significant step towards his comeback as he returned to parts of team training in Borussia's winter training camp in Spain.
And, speaking to reporters, Reus has now said that he hopes to "intensify" his training in the next couple of days and weeks.
"So far, everything's gone to plan," he said.
"I'm very satisfied and I'm happy that I was able to take part in the sections I did. I hope over the next few days and weeks that I can intensify that even more with a view to making a full return to training."
However, he added: "I haven't set myself a date by which I want to be back. It's hard to say, given the kind of injury it was, because there are still several steps I still need to take."
Reus is aware that he will not only need to return to Bundesliga action, but also pick up form to win a place on the Germany World Cup squad.
"I'm in contact with Joachim Low, and that's very important to me," Reus said.
"After being out for such a long time with an injury like this it's not easy to come back and play well, but anyone who knows me knows that I have the potential to do that and I've got the right mentality too.
"I'm optimistic. If everything goes to plan and I get time out on the pitch in the coming weeks and if I'm fit then obviously I want to play for Germany too."
Elsewhere, Borussia Dortmund rejected reports in China that a €72 million deal with Guangzhou Evergrande for attacker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has all but been agreed.
The Gabon international, under contract at Dortmund until 2021, has been linked with a Chinese Super League switch for several months, and during the 2017 summer transfer period was set to move to Tianjin Quanjian.
"All the speculation around Aubameyang is nothing new for us," BVB Sporting director Michael Zorc said when confronted with a Sina Sports report claiming the attacker would leave Dortmund for China once the Bundesliga season finished in May.
"It doesn't really annoy us. He allegedly was transferred to five clubs in the past few months."
Stephan Uersfeld is the Germany correspondent for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @uersfeld.