Zat Knight believes he is the ideal candidate to fill the boots of Martin Laursen at Aston Villa.
The former Villans skipper was forced to retire at the end of last season, finally succumbing to a long-standing knee problem.
That has left a vacancy at the heart of Martin O'Neill's defence, with England international Knight keen to stake his claim.
He insists he is ready and raring to go after returning to pre-season training and is desperate to be awarded an opportunity to shine in the 2009/10 campaign.
"We will miss Martin. We missed him at the end of last season. We wish him all the best for the future - he deserves it," Knight told the club's official website.
"But it gives others an opportunity now and hopefully that can be me. I want to give myself a good pre-season and then be in the side when the new campaign starts.
"It's been good to have a break but it's nice to get back to reality too. It's back to business now."