Chelsea midfielder Marco van Ginkel hopes to make a late claim for a spot in Holland's World Cup squad as he closes in on his return from a season-ending injury.
The Dutch midfielder suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury just 10 minutes into his second starting appearance for the Blues following his summer arrival from Vitesse Arnhem.
Van Ginkel, 22, was immediately ruled out for the rest of the season with fears that he would miss nine months of action, a prognosis that left his hopes of being named in Louis van Gaal's Holland squad extremely bleak.
But the Dutchman's quicker than expected recovery has revived those hopes and he is set to feature for Chelsea's Under-21 side against their Manchester United counterparts on Friday night, Jose Mourinho confirmed in a press conference.
After Roma midfielder Kevin Strootman saw his World Cup hopes ended through a similar injury there is suddenly a gaping hole in the Oranje midfield and van Ginkel is hopeful he can catch van Gaal's eye in the short time he has left before the squad is named.
"Everyone has their dreams. It would be fantastic to get to the World Cup," van Ginkel told Dutch daily Algemeen Dagblad. "But is it realistic? I do not know.
"What everyone can see is that you have to play for many minutes to be eligible for this coach (Dutch coach Louis van Gaal) and currently I haven't."
Discussing his rehabilitation, van Ginkel spoke positively of his own rate of recovery and how Chelsea are accustomed to treating such injuries having seen young players struck down by similar setbacks in the past.
"Six to nine months. That is the time you always hear there is for the rehabilitation of a cruciate ligament injury," Van Ginkel added. "I do not know if it is faster than average for me, I only know that my recovery from the outset has proceeded on schedule.
"They at Chelsea have a lot of experience with this injury. Last season there was Oriol Romeu, a Spanish boy who is now on loan at Valencia. He was about the same age with this injury and after four or five months he was back in training. My recovery from the outset been similar to his."