England captain Michael Vaughan has made it clear he wants star all-rounder Andrew Flintoff back in international cricket as soon as possible, ideally during the upcoming series against New Zealand.
He also said dropped new-ball duo Stephen Harmison and Matthew Hoggard could force their way back into the Test side while he himself was contemplating a return to number three in the batting order.
Flintoff, who is due to play for Lancashire in their County Championship opener against Surrey at The Oval on Wednesday, missed England's pre-Christmas tour of Sri Lanka and their recent campaign in New Zealand as he recovered from a fourth operation on his left ankle.
Whether Flintoff's troublesome joint can stand up to the rigours of the 30-year-old's hard-charging approach to pace bowling remains to be seen.
Flintoff hasn't played a Test since captaining England, in Vaughan's injury-induced absence, in the climax of their 5-0 Ashes series thrashing by Australia in Sydney in January last year while his last one-day international was in September against India.
His return, and the attempts by Harmison and Hoggard to re-establish themselves at Test level, promise to help sustain interests in the early weeks of a Championship season in danger of being overshadowed completely by events in the inaugural Indian Premier League (IPL), which starts on Friday.
Vaughan will be a keen follower of all-rounder Flintoff's fortunes, having himself struggled with a potentially career-ending knee injury.
"He has got three or four four-day games for Lancashire, so hopefully he will come through those with overs under his belt, runs by his name and give himself a good chance because we want him back," Vaughan said of Flintoff.
"An England side with Freddie in is a better team."
"He wants to be there," added Vaughan. "He is the only one who knows what his ankle feels like.
"He hasn't bowled 18 to 20 overs in a day yet and had to go out and bowl five or six the next day yet, so hopefully he will get through that.
"We just want him right, whether that means he misses the first game, second game and comes back for the third.
"I just want him back fit and ready; whether it's first or third, that will do me," Vaughan added ahead of the first Test against New Zealand, which starts at Lord's in a month's time.
"It is so important you listen to your body and know yourself."
Turning to Yorkshire team-mate Hoggard, Vaughan said: "With him you know he is going to try to take wickets over the next month to make it hard for the selectors.
"Harmy has been given a harder time and I wouldn't want to be a county batsman over the next month having to face him because I think he has got a bit of a bee in his bonnet and a point to prove.
"That is exactly what I want - I certainly don't think it is the end of their careers yet."
Vaughan had a mediocre tour of New Zealand with the bat, averaging under 21 in the three Tests, although England won the series 2-1.
But he now expects to swap places with Andrew Strauss, the Middlesex left-hander reverting to the opening berth where he made his name as a Test match batsman.
"I wouldn't say I would carry on opening for England, no.
"We will have to sit down with Peter Moores and the selectors. Straussy is at three at the minute - he likes opening and I am at two and like batting at three - so maybe that will be a little bit of a change."