Chelsea midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek, currently on loan at Crystal Palace, has revealed he has the final seven games of the Premier League season to show he merits a place in the squad.
The 22-year-old injured his right ankle in December and surgery was considered when the joint failed to respond to rest.
A surgery on his ankle would have ended any hope of participation in Russia for Loftus-Cheek but he finally responded to treatment and returned for Crystal Palace against Huddersfield on March 17.
“Of course the World Cup has been in the back of my mind,” Loftus-Cheek told Evening Standard.
“At the start when surgery was mentioned I thought, ‘That sounds bad’. It was very scary because we did not know how long it would take and it was waiting to decide what was the best road to go down.
“I went back to Chelsea for physio and rehab. We did not know what I had done at first. My right ankle took a little bit of a fracture. It was either surgery or try and let it heal by itself. It was tough but I knew if I got back I could get into the World Cup squad.
“There was a period when it just did not feel like it was getting better and I was wondering how long it was going to take. But we made the decision that we would go with the conservative route and after a couple of weeks it did start to feel better.
“I am back now and raring to go. Right now I am focused on Palace, playing well and I have got seven games to get as much playing time as possible.”
Loftus-Cheek added: “The ankle is feeling much better and I feel fitter than I thought I would feel. I feel sharp in training so I am not too worried about my fitness. If I do get all seven games it is enough for me.
“I have spoken to Gareth. He did not say much, he just asked how my injury was. He wished me all the best for the games to come. It would be massive for me to go to a World Cup. That is what I am aspiring to but that will come from my performances with Palace at the end of the season.”