Gary Cahill has admitted that he is thankful just to be playing after recovering from a blood clot last season.
Cahill was struck down by the potentially serious ailment in February and had to wait patiently before he could return to action.
Having to miss a large chunk of the season did not help the Bolton defender's bid to make the England World Cup squad and it came as little surprise that he was left out for the trip to South Africa.
Now fully fit, Cahill is in contention to make his first international start when the Three Lions face Switzerland in their second Euro 2012 qualifier on Tuesday night.
The 24-year-old is determined to seize his chance after his ordeal last term gave him a sense of perspective about the fragility of a football career.
"I had a bad injury and I came back from that," he said in The Sun.
"It made me appreciate playing football, especially for your country because it is at the top level and it is what you strive for.
"I am honoured and proud to play for England."
Cahill came on in the 4-0 victory over Bulgaria on Friday as a replacement for the injured Michael Dawson, and hopes to have done enough to keep his place ahead of players such as Matthew Upson and Joleon Lescott.
And with John Terry and Rio Ferdinand expected back for the next squad, Cahill knows he cannot rest on his laurels.
"I had to wait for my chance and thankfully it came against Bulgaria," he said.
"Rio Ferdinand's injury problems left a door open for a place in the centre of defence.
"There are a number of players battling for that space. All I can do is keep my head down and work hard."