Injury-hit England all-rounder Andrew Flintoff is looking to return to international cricket against South Africa in July.
Just when it looked as if Flintoff might be selected following a fourth operation on his left ankle, a side strain meant he was left out of both the first Test against New Zealand, which starts at Lord's on Thursday, and the second-match of the three-Test series at Old Trafford.
An aggressive fast bowler and hard-hitting batsman, Flintoff hasn't played Test cricket since leading England, in the absence of injured regular captain Michael Vaughan, during their 5-0 Ashes series defeat in Australia in January last year.
Nevertheless, the hero of England's 2005 Ashes series win, insisted he had plenty of glory days ahead of him.
"I still feel my best years are in front of me," he told the June issue of the Wisden Cricketer magazine. "That's not just something I say in interviews, I definitely believe it.
"Everybody is always going to ask about my ankle and how I'm going on but I've just been regarding myself as a fit player.
"Even when I was getting ready to go to Dubai with the Lancashire lads for our pre-season tour the operation had been that long ago that I'd almost forgotten it.
"I know it's a cliche but let's just take it day by day," 30-year-old Flintoff added.
"I have felt okay in the early stages after my previous operations and I'd be lying if I said there wasn't a niggling little bit of doubt in the back of my mind somewhere; after four operations I think that is inevitable.
"But I just hope that in July, with 150 or 200 overs under my belt, I will still be all right."
England play the first of four Tests against South Africa starting at Lord's on July 10.
Flintoff paid tribute to Dutch surgeon Niek van Dijk, whom his longtime physiotherapist Dave Roberts located after a worldwide search.
"When it was decided I was having an operation, first and foremost we had to make sure we were doing the right thing," Flintoff said.
"Rooster (Roberts) researched around the world to find the best man to do it and came up with Niek van Dijk. He seemed to be the law on ankles; he'd written papers and books and whatnot.
"I went for a consultation and he was confident about what he could do. Obviously his cricket knowledge was a bit limited but it was quite encouraging to hear what he was saying and we decided he was the man.
"He went into the joint and found things wrong. He removed some bone fragments that were deeply embedded and also did some work on the tendon.
"Having seen what the surgeon took out, I was confident the ankle was going to be fine. There has been something clinically wrong with my ankle and hopefully, having had this operation, the problem has been eradicated."