Liverpool defender Martin Kelly is working hard to overcome his injury frustration and win an eagerly-awaited England senior call-up.
The 21-year-old was one of the Reds' stand-out performers in the first two months of Kenny Dalglish's second spell as manager at the club. Kelly was immediately installed as right-back with Glen Johnson injured and when the England international did return it was on the left side of defence, such was the youngster's form.
Those performances began to attract the attention of England manager Fabio Capello, who is looking for options at right-back, but Kelly's progress was halted by a hamstring injury in February and he did not play again in the remainder of the campaign, and he said: "We had a scan and it was good news - it was only a slight strain. I'll build up training this week."
However, the academy graduate was not forgotten by the national team boss, who was impressed by his display at Arsenal last month. Kelly was named in Stuart Pearce's England Under-21 squad for matches over the international break but had to withdraw after being forced off in the 3-1 win over Bolton with another hamstring problem.
The injury was not serious, though, and now the defender is keen to regain his fitness and first-team place to begin challenging for England contention again.
He added: "I was disappointed because obviously the England manager had talked about me but I know if I keep working hard my time will come."
Kelly considered playing through the pain against Wanderers but considering his recent history he erred on the side of caution.
"The first thing I thought was 'Can I carry on?'," he told liverpoolfc.tv. "We tried a few exercises on the side but I don't think it was worth it. I could have maybe played on but [it was important to] get it right, with the history of hamstring trouble I had last season.
"I've done quite a lot of work over the last six months. Touch wood this will be the last. It's all part of football. You're going to get injuries.
"This is just a slight injury - no more than two weeks. It should be fine after that. Injuries won't trouble me. It's just an unlucky time in the game for me."
Copyright (c) PA Sport 2009, All Rights Reserved.
Do YOU want to write for GiveMeSport? Get started today by signing-up and submitting an article HERE: http://gms.to/writeforgms