Aston Villa midfielder-turned-defender Craig Gardner is winning his battle to be fit for Saturday's Barclays Premier League clash against Sunderland at Villa Park.
And Gardner hopes if he can shrug off the back injury he picked up in the recent 1-1 draw with Middlesbrough, he will also win a place in the England Under-21 side who face Poland at Wolverhampton Wanderer's Molineux ground next Tuesday.
Gardner, who was named in Stuart Pearce's squad yesterday, missed last Saturday's 2-0 defeat at Portsmouth but has told manager Martin O'Neill he is on the mend.
If he passes a fitness test he will replace Olof Mellberg at right-back after the Swedish International was shown a red card at Portsmouth for a second bookable offence and who must now serve a one-match ban.
Villa boss O'Neill said: "Craig is okay and with a bit of luck he will be training again today. We should have a fully fit squad available for the weekend.
"Freddie Bouma got kicked at Portsmouth and limped off but will be fine and Gabby Agbonlahor, who has a sore foot, should also train. Craig was really sore on Friday and it would be unlike Craig unless it was really sore as he does not want to miss games."
Yardley-born Gardner has been right-back whenever called upon this season.
He said: "Whether it is at right-back, right side of midfield or central midfield I don't mind and the gaffer knows that. I will play anywhere that I am needed. Hopefully I am in the team for the next game and if it is right-back, I don't really care to be honest.
"I just want to be playing and playing for Aston Villa."
O'Neill continued: "Craig is obviously a midfield player and while he often plays right back for us, there is nothing to prevent him from starting to think about playing in defence more often.
"Craig is learning all the time and this will be a good experience for him. Defensively he can improve. It is about shaping up to tricky, fast wingers."
* Villa may have dropped points in their quest for European football this season but the fans are continuing to believe in Martin O'Neill's young guns if ticket sales are anything to go by.
Fewer than 1,000 tickets remain for Saturday's visit of Roy Keane's Sunderland while tickets for the forthcoming second city derby with Birmingham City on Sunday April 20 are also selling fast with both the Holte End and Doug Ellis stands already sold out.
Tickets for Villa's tough away day encounter at Everton go on priority sale today, initially to season ticket holders with a booking history of five or more away games this season.
That is followed by sales to season ticket holders with fewer than five away games from tomorrow at 9am.
Villa have been given 3,000 tickets for the match, which takes place on Sunday April 27 at 4pm at Goodison Park.