Everton midfielder Steven Pienaar is determined not to let his early-season injury setback derail his World cup dream.
The South Africa international was hoping to stay fit this term with the World Cup hosted in his homeland next summer.
The 27-year-old has been hit by a knee ligament injury, though, which has ruled him out of the last three games.
David Moyes will again be without Pienaar for Thursday's Europa League clash away to Benfica but the tricky winger has assured the Everton boss he will be out to impress as soon as he shakes off the niggling injury.
"I didn't expect it to be this sore," said Pienaar. "It just takes time, though, as it needs to heal on its own.
"A few of the fibres split in my ligament so I have to rest and do my exercises. But at the moment I am struggling with running.
"I spent the summer at the Confederations Cup and when I returned to Everton I wanted to work hard, stay fit and not pick up any injuries.
"Unfortunately sometimes injuries happen in football and now I have to climb the ladder again to regain my fitness.
"I know I will then have to fight for my place back in the team."
Everton will also be without Joseph Yobo after the defender suffered a head injury in Saturday's 1-1 draw with Wolves, while Lucas Neill and John Heitinga are ineligible.
Moyes' men are hoping to record their third straight group win and stretch their unbeaten run in all competitions to eight matches.
They have a busy week ahead with Sunday's trip to Bolton followed by a Carling Cup fourth-round clash against Tottenham on Tuesday but goalkeeper Tim Howard hopes the visit to Portugal acts as a springboard for the Toffees.
"It is a big week for us but I think we are ready for it," he said.
"We enjoy travelling in Europe and hopefully this game will kick us off in the right direction."