Jonny Wilkinson insists his ongoing battle with a knee injury could soon be at an end, but concedes he has no chance of being fit for England's RBS 6 Nations opener on 7 February.
Having returned to fitness following a lengthy spell on the sidelines with a shoulder problem, Wilkinson dislocated his knee in September.
He is now once again in rehabilitation, but while the Twickenham meeting with Italy will come too early for him, he is still eyeing an international comeback with both England and the British and Irish Lions in 2009.
Asked if he expected to play for Martin Johnson's England again, the Newcastle fly-half told Sky Sports News: "Yes, definitely. I think I've been misunderstood a little before. What I've said when I've been asked is that ahead of those representative honours, I'm just trying to make the most of my personal ability.
"I say instead of asking 'what do I need to do to get back into the England side?', 'what do I need to do to be my best?'.
"I come back from the specialist the day before (England's 7 February opener) so I may have a bit of jet lag. There's stuff to do but I'll not be too far off then.
"When I come back from this injury I hope to be very active, then it's about getting match fit - the onus is then on you and I enjoy that responsibility."
Asked about the possibility of winning a place in Ian McGeechan's Lions squad in South Africa, Wilkinson was also upbeat.
"I couldn't think of anything better, my whole life has been about getting the best out of myself.
"Time is maybe a little short but I'll enjoy that challenge and the journey towards the Lions tour. If I get there, great, if it doesn't (happen) I'll get the next one."