Andrew Flintoff hopes to be fit enough to take part in the opening match of the English first-class season ahead of a possible return to Lord's five weeks later for the first Test against New Zealand.
England all-rounder Flintoff, currently recovering from a fourth operation on his left ankle, is set to play for Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC), the owners of Lord's, at the 'home of cricket' in the four-day match against county champions Sussex starting on April 10 - the traditional curtain-raiser to the English season.
The 30-year-old, whose career has been plagued by ankle problems, hopes he will be sufficiently fit by then to play as a full-fledged pace-bowling all-rounder.
Flintoff, England's hero in their 2005 Ashes triumph, last played for England in September's World Twenty20.
But he hasn't played Test cricket since the final match of the 2006/07 Ashes in Sydney when, standing in as captain for the injured Michael Vaughan, he saw England go down to a 5-0 series thrashing and has since been subject to criticism by then England coach Duncan Fletcher of turning up drunk at a training session which was brought to an abrupt halt.
Flintoff, who has been training in the nets at Old Trafford, will look to continue his rehabilitation with Lancashire during a forthcoming tournament in the United Arab Emirates featuring several English county sides.
"You can't walk back into the England side so I've been concentrating on Dubai, then starting the season well with Lancashire - and hopefully I can be playing on May 15 at Lord's," Flintoff told Sky Sports News on Tuesday.
Last month he played just as a batsman in two one-day matches for England Lions, the national reserve team, in India and admits it won't be until he bowls in a match situation that he will know the state of his troublesome ankle.
"I think it feels fine - but the acid test will be how it is halfway through the summer," Flintoff, speaking just hours before the start of England's Test series in New Zealand, added.
"In previous years there has been something to rush back to but this year we've taken our time.
"I'm confident it's going to be fine having seen what the surgeon took out - I certainly don't want any more operations after four.
"I'm pretty philosophical. There's not a lot more I can do now, it's about getting back into cricket and form - especially with the bat.
"I was nervous about batting and I've not been nervous for six months.
"But I've got a few overs under my belt and fingers crossed I can get cracking in April.
"My bowling suffered with a lack of fitness as a result of the ankle injury but my batting, more so - I was batting on one leg."
Flintoff will have a chance to further test his ankle during the ARCH Trophy in the UAE where Lancashire will be up against Yorkshire, Essex, Somerset and Sussex. Lancashire's first match is against the UAE national side in Sharjah a week on Friday.
England have struggled in the Test arena since their 2005 Ashes success winning just eight out of a possible 28 matches and claiming just two out of a possible eight series which has seen Fletcher replaced by Peter Moores.