Michael Johnson is being spurred on by the prospect of stepping into a star-studded Manchester City side as he continues his fitness fight.
The 22-year-old midfielder has not played since the Carling Cup tie against Scunthorpe last October after rupturing a cruciate knee ligament in training but is well on the road to recovery.
When Johnson last played, City had already begun the lavish recruitment drive they hope will push them into Europe's elite.
But Johnson is starstruck by the calibre of players the Blues have since managed to capture, such as Yaya Toure, David Silva and Mario Balotelli this summer.
They have given the City side a very different look to when Stuart Pearce gave Johnson his debut against Wigan during the 2006/07 season, when veterans Trevor Sinclair and Didi Hamann featured in midfield while Georgios Samaras and Bernardo Corradi played up front.
The Blues lost 4-0 that day and ultimately finished 14th, a far cry from the recent 3-0 win over Liverpool, which signalled City as potential title contenders this season.
"It will be great to play in a really good team," Johnson told the club's official website.
"It's easy to forget that we were just a mid-table team not too long ago.
"We had some decent players - in fact, some very good players - but as a team we were doing average.
"Now when you see the way we played against Liverpool, things are just looking so good.
"It would be so easy to play in this team. Having those sort of quality players around you makes it easier."
Johnson is continuing his rehabilitation and received a boost by being named in City's 25-man Premier League squad on Wednesday.
The former England Under 21 international is now hoping to be back in action before Christmas after a recent progress check on his fitness.
"It's going well," he added. "I saw the surgeon two weeks ago and he said about six to eight weeks before full training.
"Getting full fitness from there is another step but December doesn't seem that far now, everything's getting a lot closer for me.
"I'm not rushing it but a game before December would be a bonus, really."