Dalian defender Zhang Enhua has denied reports that he would retire from the sport due to a recurring knee injury.
Zhang, 30, was left out of Dalian's games at the A3 Champions Cup in January and the AFC Champions League group B matches in February. His absence allowed younger starlets like Zou Jie and Zhang Yaokun to shine at the Asian premier soccer tournament.
But Zhang told Football Weekly that he is well on track to regain full fitness.
"It is not true that I am on the verge of retirement," Zhang was quoted as saying by the latest edition of Football Weekly.
"I still have a very strong desire to play at the next World Cup finals so the news about me going to retire is definitely not true."
After missing out on playing for China in the 2002 World Cup Finals, Zhang is still optimistic of China's qualifying for the 2006 tournament in Germany and winning an appearance at the game'shighest stage.
"After achieving so much in the past, I would like to play at the finals to end my career," said Zhang, who had a three-month spell with English first division side Grimsby Town in 2001.
"I am not injured to the extent that I have to retire. I know there are rumors circulating that I might soon be hanging up my boots but they are all not true.
"It is terrible to be sidelined and I thought a lot when I was injured. My targets early in my career were simple but with the passing years, I have learnt to aim higher," he added.