Jonathan Spector is eager to make up for lost time and make his mark for the United States national team.
The versatile West Ham United defender, who turned 23 on 1 March, suffered a double injury heartbreak that ruled him out of the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany and last year's Olympic Games in Beijing.
Having returned after six months out with a torn labrum - the cartilage that surrounds the socket of the hip joint - Spector is back in the United States squad for Saturday's 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifier against El Salvador in Miami, and next Wednesday's visit of Trinidad and Tobago to Nashville.
Having missed the two biggest international tournaments of his career so far - Spector was ruled out of the last World Cup finals with a shoulder problem - the player is delighted to be back in Bob Bradley's squad.
"It's definitely great to be back with the team. Last time I was in I had a hip problem and the US team physician diagnosed it. I couldn't be happier to be back playing, first of all, and then obviously being back with the national team. It's always an honour to be called upon to represent my country so I'm thrilled to be back and part of the team."
Spector, who hails from the northern Chicago suburb of Arlington Heights, hopes to add to the 12 caps he has earned on Saturday, when the Americans will hope to build on the 2-0 victory they scored over Mexico in their opening match of the fourth round of CONCACAF qualifying against surprise package El Salvador.
The player, who has made six first-team appearances for West Ham since his return from injury in December, is also targeting a place in Bradley's squad for both next summer's World Cup finals and the FIFA Confederations Cup, which is also being held in South Africa in June.
"I feel like I'm at 100 per cent. I know I've been out for an extended period but I've been working hard to get back to where I am now. I've played nearly two full games for West Ham and have come on in a number of other games and, as far as playing day-in, day-out is concerned, I'm feeling pretty comfortable. Obviously there's always room for improvement, but I'm happy with where I'm at.
"First and foremost team success and pushing for qualification for the World Cup in South Africa. We've also got the Confederations Cup coming up this summer so I'd love to be involved in that. I've been a bit unlucky in terms of injuries coming at the wrong times. Hopefully I can be a bit luckier this time around and work my way into getting a number of appearances for the US team."