Scott Parker rediscovers England hunger ahead of World Cup qualifiers

The Tottenham midfielder returned from Euro 2012 needing surgery

The World Cup fires are burning brightly for England midfielder Scott Parker now he has finally recovered from the Achilles injury that threatened his international future.

The Tottenham man returned from Euro 2012 requiring surgery on a long-term problem.

The operation kept him out until December, but after making 13 successive starts for Spurs, Parker is feeling good again.

And he is starting to train his sights on the greatest show on earth in Brazil next year.

"Now I am amongst it again, the fire rumbles in my belly to get there for Brazil," said Parker.

"I have not had many massive injuries in my career but the ones you do have give you that hunger again.

"I need to take things one step at a time but, now I am in the squad, if I get my chance I need to take it."

Midway through his first major tournament last summer, Parker did outline a theory that it could be his last.

Still only 32, it seemed an extreme assessment given his status as England's most natural defensive midfielder.

Yet part of Parker's thinking may have been formulated by the knowledge his troublesome Achilles injury, which flared up towards the end of last season, was going to need sorting out.

And, as the former West Ham man is acutely aware, nothing can be taken for granted in the recovery stages from such significant surgery.

"I didn't really have any pain during Euro 2012 but there was a slight problem with my Achilles during the summer and in the end I needed to have an operation," said Parker.

"And if you ask any player when they have been out for some time, doubts do cross your mind about when you are going to come back.

"There are long days when you are feeling unfit and everything seems a struggle. Then negative thoughts do set in.

"But once you are out of pain and on the road back towards playing again, your focus changes."

Although Parker has not featured for his country since that disappointing penalty shoot-out defeat by Italy in Kiev last June, the experience of being in Poland and Ukraine has fuelled a passion to be part of another major tournament with England.

"I had a fantastic time at the Euros," he said.

"It was a great experience for me and it did explode at quite a late age but I would love to be involved in a World Cup squad.

"A lot can happen between now and then. If I can stay fit and maintain my form hopefully I will have a chance."

England have to qualify first, but draws against Ukraine and Poland have meant progress is not quite as smooth as manager Roy Hodgson would have hoped.

Defeat to Montenegro in Podgorica next Tuesday has to be avoided at all costs if Hodgson's men are to avoid ending up scrapping for a play-off berth.

Yet there is a hurdle to navigate before then, with Friday's encounter with San Marino providing hazards in the form of potential for yellow cards and injury rather than actual defeat.

Having lost three central defenders from his original squad, Hodgson will have to give some thought over his team selection, knowing full well San Marino might not even manage a shot in a one-sided 90 minutes.

Even Parker concedes it is not an obvious game for him to shine in.

"You would like to think a more defensive player like myself would be needed less against San Marino than Montenegro," he said.

"It will certainly be a different game but also it will be a difficult one.

"San Marino will have 11 men behind the ball and will camp in to make it hard for us to create chance.

"Our focus will be breaking them down, getting the three points and moving on to Tuesday."

PA

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