Andrew Flintoff admits there is a "slim possibility" he will not play cricket again if he fails to make a full return to fitness.
The England all-rounder retired from Test cricket following the triumphant Ashes campaign last summer - and has not play in any form of the game since undergoing an operation on a chronic knee injury.
It was initially hoped he would be fit for England's current tour of Bangladesh, but more surgery at the beginning of the year has further pushed back the date of his return.
The 32-year-old is targeting a comeback for the last two months of the season and believes he may still have several seasons ahead of him, in all cricket for Lancashire and limited-overs formats for his country.
But Flintoff has acknowledged his return is not set in stone, and has started thinking about life after cricket should "the worst thing" happen.
"If the worst thing did happen and I can't play cricket, I don't want to arrive at the end of it scratching my head," Flintoff said.
"It is a slim possibility. I've seen a lot of cricketers finish their careers after injury, or just come to the end of them, and not be prepared for life after cricket and jump into doing something they don't want to do. I don't want to be in that position.
"I have a few irons in the fire. But first and foremost is getting back on a cricket field."
Flintoff was reluctant to accept he would have to push back his return until his second operation on the same joint two months ago.
"It was just a case that my knee was not getting any better in that certain area," he said.
"It has knocked me back six months, but I've been in this position before, so I know what I need to do - and the incentive is to get back playing cricket."