Crystal Palace midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek is aiming to end the season on a high to give himself the best possible chance of earning a place on the plane to the World Cup in Russia this summer.
The 22-year-old - who was named man of the match in England's clash with Germany last year - has been out injured for the last three months with an ankle injury, but has told the Evening Standard that he still believes a place in England's World Cup squad is a possibility, if he can impress in the final weeks of the domestic season for Palace.
“Of course the World Cup has been in the back of my mind,” he told Standard Sport. “At the start when surgery was mentioned I thought, ‘That sounds bad’. It was very scary because we did not know how long it would take and it was waiting to decide what was the best road to go down.
“I went back to Chelsea for physio and rehab. We did not know what I had done at first. My right ankle took a little bit of a fracture. It was either surgery or try and let it heal by itself. It was tough but I knew if I got back I could get into the World Cup squad.
“There was a period when it just did not feel like it was getting better and I was wondering how long it was going to take. But we made the decision that we would go with the conservative route and after a couple of weeks it did start to feel better.
“I am back now and raring to go. Right now I am focused on Palace, playing well and I have got seven games to get as much playing time as possible.”
The midfielder, who is on loan at Palace from Chelsea, impressed on his England debut against Germany back in November, and will be hoping to replicate that form between now and the end of the season.
Having been out of action for three months with an ankle problem, the versatile midfielder is feeling good ahead of the closing stages of the season, as he looks to catch Gareth Southgate's eye.
“The ankle is feeling much better and I feel fitter than I thought I would feel,” he said. “I feel sharp in training so I am not too worried about my fitness. If I do get all seven games it is enough for me.
“I have spoken to Gareth. He did not say much, he just asked how my injury was. He wished me all the best for the games to come. It would be massive for me to go to a World Cup. That is what I am aspiring to but that will come from my performances with Palace at the end of the season."