Aston Villa's loan defender Curtis Davies is desperate for a chance to prove himself starting with Sunday's Premier League encounter against Manchester City by winning a place in the team's starting line up.
But he may yet have to be patient despite battling back from injury with his manager insisting he will not rush the former West Bromwich Albion captain back too soon.
Davies missed the end of last season at The Hawthorns and his side's Championship play-off final heartache at Wembley through his second broken metatarsal of the campaign.
He then picked up a hamstring injury in pre-season training which forced him on the sidelines for Villa's impressive 2-0 victory over Chelsea a fortnight ago.
But the 20-year-old has used the international break to his advantage undergoing additional training at Bodymoor Heath in a bid to get back to fitness as soon as is practically possible.
Davies, who hopes to impress Villa enough this season to force O'Neill into making his move permanent come next summer, admits he never doubted the size of the challenge ahead at Villa Park.
He was given a stark reminder of that watching Villa's victory over Jose Mourinho's men from the Trinity Road stand.
The player, who is back to full training, is now hoping to put pressure on central defenders Martin Laursen and newcomer Zat Knight for a place in the starting line-up for Sunday's televised match at Eastlands.
Davies said: "I was at the Chelsea game and like everyone else I was excited by the performance and the result.
"I am not sure however that it was too good a day for me personally because now I know what I am up against!"
Davies continued: "The lads played well and defended like lions so I am going to have a hard task on my hands getting into the team.
"What impressed me most was the way everyone worked for each other. The team never gave anything up and the players were always backing each other up.
"That is what we need to be like in every game. It is all well and good raising our game for Chelsea, but we need to take that into all our games."
Davies, an England Under-21 international, added; "There are a lot of good centre-halves here and I hope to learn off the older ones like Olof (Mellberg) and Martin (Laursen).
"I have always been a regular wherever I have been but this is the time now when I need to earn my place a bit more.
"Hopefully, if and when I get my chance, I won't let anyone take my place back."
Davies added: "My fitness is good now. I was working like a dog when I had my hamstring problem but that is what I needed, so that when I join the rest of the lads, I am ready to compete.
"I am definitely ready if the manager needs me against Manchester City this weekend.
"The first weekend I came to Villa I told him I'd be ready if he needed me but the smart decision was to give me the break to get properly fit.
"Now I am back there and as long as I am in training I feel I can do a job for the manager one day. If he wants to pick me, I am ready to take someone's place."
Davies was one of a number of Premier League football stars invited to the opening of Birmingham's newly extended Harvey Nichols store in Mailbox on Wednesday night along with team-mates Patrick Berger, Marlon Harewood and former Villa and now Birmingham City defender Liam Ridgewell, said: "This has almost been a mini pre-season for me.
"It has been about reconditioning. I did some hard runs that would be considered pre-season running.
"When you train normally you might do one a week but I was doing three a week. It was hard graft and it would have been even if I was 100 per cent fit let along recovering from an injury but I feel stronger for that."
Manager Martin O'Neill, however, has hinted he may yet give the defender a little more time to consolidate his fitness and has said he will not rush the former Baggies' man back too soon.
He said: "Curtis is a doing a wee bit but we have to ease him into it.
"He has been out for some time and the last thing we want to do is overstretch him.
"But he is on the way back. He feels pretty good and obviously he is desperate to get started."