Matthew Upson was flying back to England on Sunday after the first week of an FA training camp where he staked his claim for a place in Fabio Capello's final 23-man squad.
Speaking before he departed for international duty, the West Ham United captain admitted he would be "bitterly disappointed" to miss out on the selection for South Africa - with seven due to be cut from the provisional 30-player party. Upson will hope to impress against Mexico in Monday night's friendly at Wembley before the squad head back to Austria.
"We are looking to the World Cup and my biggest focus is that right now.," said the club captain. "That is the only thing I am thinking about. Hopefully I will go and get on the plane and experience the World Cup. It could be great."
Upson is well aware he faces a battle to earn a spot alongside certainties Rio Ferdinand and John Terry, with Ledley King, Michael Dawson and Jamie Carragher his chief rivals. Media pundits are having a field day with who might make the cut, with King especially having been impressive in recent weeks.
Having finished the season in strong form himself with a good display against Manchester City in front of Fabio Capello's right-hand man Franco Baldini, Upson remains upbeat. "I would be bitterly disappointed if I wasn't on the plane. It is standard practice coming into a World Cup that the press are going to put their point forward and bang the drum for who they think should be going. That is their right.
"The manager knows who he wants to take. You have to take current form into it and look over the big picture of the last 18 months and the players he knows. Hopefully I have done enough to show him I am capable of stepping up to that level.
"It has been difficult this season but you can still perform no matter what. It has been tough mentally, physically and in every way but hopefully I will be involved in the squad."