Roy Hodgson believes Daniel Sturridge still has his edge and challenged the striker to prove his fitness ahead of Euro 2016.
While the 26-year-old’s quality has never been doubt, the striker’s fitness has been as a string of injuries will mean 19 months have separated his 16th and 17th international caps.
Tuesday’s friendly against the Netherlands will be Sturridge’s first appearance since the drab post-World Cup friendly with Norway in September 2014 and offers the chance to shine ahead of the Euros.
Hodgson has confirmed the Liverpool striker will start at Wembley and hopes that the striker, just as with Arsenal’s Danny Welbeck, can use prove his fitness and ability before the season is out.
“We’re pleased to have another quality player like Daniel available and knocking on the door, trying to make it clear that he should be the first name on the team sheet,” the England boss said.
“All I can do is to give him the opportunity when he comes with the England team.
“I hope he continues to get those opportunities as well with his club side and that he’ll take those opportunities and will continue to get more games behind him.
“If we look back over the last two years, he hasn’t been able to get to get that many games behind him because of injury.
“It has been a damn sight more frustrating for him than for me because I have others who can play.
“When he’s not available someone else plays, but it must have been enormously frustrating for him.
“But, I’ve got to say, during these seven days we’ve been together now, he doesn’t seem to carry any frustration with him. He just seems to be back to the player he was.
“But I would like people like him and Danny Welbeck to make certain that in the four or five weeks that remain in the season to get as big a build-up as they possibly can of fitness, conditioning and match play, as well as training, so that they can convince me they are once again at the very, very height of their powers.”