Socceroos skipper Mile Jedinak hopes his hard work will pay off when he returns to action in Australia's friendly against Croatia on Saturday morning.
The Crystal Palace midfielder has been on the comeback trail from a groin injury suffered on the final day of the Premier League season last month, causing him to miss the farewell match against South Africa in Sydney.
With his rehabilitation now complete, head coach Ange Postecoglou hopes to play him for as close to 90 minutes as possible against Niko Kovac's team in Bahia this weekend, and the captain doesn't want to disappoint.
"I am happy to play as long as I have to, I feel good and have been working hard with the group and behind the scenes with the medical staff and with our strength and conditioning coach," he said.
"You try and lead by example and I've been going as hard as I can the last couple of weeks.
"Tomorrow is important for our preparation and we need to put our best foot forward."
Having progressed from his humble origins at the Central Coast Mariners to being a Premier League regular and national team captain, the reality of Jedinak's rise to the top could soon set in when he pulls on the armband on the biggest stage in the football world.
"I am excited, leading my county at a World Cup is a massive honour," he said.
"It's probably something I could never have imagined all that time ago."
Another player set to return from injury is Matthew Spiranovic, who sat out the 1-1 draw with Bafana Bafana due to a minor ankle problem.
The Western Sydney Wanderers man is available again and expected to line up alongside Alex Wilkinson in central defence against Croatia.
"It's looking good," he said when asked about their partnership.
"We're working very hard in training. The understanding between us is getting better every day. It's no secret we haven't played a lot of minutes together. But that's why tomorrow night will be a great opportunity for us to work on things."
Despite being the younger of the two centre-backs, Spiranovic had 17 caps to Wilkinson's two, meaning the onus may be on the 25-year-old to marshal the Socceroos' backline.
"I have been fortunate enough to be involved with the squad since I was 18," he said.
"Having the most caps at the back, if that means I have to step up and take a leadership role then I'm fairly comfortable with that and I look forward to the challenge."
The Socceroos play Croatia on Friday night (kick off 9am AEST time Saturday morning live on Fox Sports) ahead of their tournament opener against Chile on June 13.
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