Robbie Keane is hoping the Republic of Ireland will reap the rewards of his loan spell at Aston Villa.
The 31-year-old striker opted to spend part of the MLS shutdown back in the Premier League rather than in pre-season training with LA Galaxy, and that decision worked out well for both parties.
Keane scored three times in seven appearances for Villa, and will head into Wednesday night’s friendly against the Czech Republic in Dublin brimming with confidence.
Asked what he had gained from his time at Villa Park, he said: "Keeping fit, getting games under my belt – it couldn’t have worked out better for me.
"That’s the way I wanted it to go, to get games and keep myself fit.
"LA Galaxy are traveling to different places – they are in Arizona at the moment for a few weeks – so I just thought it would be more beneficial to me to stay in one place rather than be traveling all over the place and having a pre-season behind me that I already had three months ago.
"In that respect there was a bit of thinking behind it, it wasn’t that I just wanted to go on loan.
"Playing for Villa, it’s a great club and I really enjoyed my time there, and I think it worked out well for the both of us."
The Republic will hope Keane’s spell back in English football will help to keep their record goalscorer – he has 53 senior international goals to his name – ticking over ahead of the Euro 2012 finals.
Manager Giovanni Trapattoni admits he has all but chosen his squad already, but Keane knows every player needs to be at their best to win a seat on the plane to Poland and the Ukraine.
He said: "The manager has tough decisions to make but I am sure he has made tougher decisions before in his career and I am sure it won’t be a problem.
"It’s up to the players to keep themselves fit and keep themselves playing as much as they can."
One man who is certainly not fit at the moment is central defender Richard Dunne, who is recovering from a fractured collarbone.
Dunne, 32, has set his sights on playing in Villa’s final two Premier League games ahead of the finals, and Keane is confident that will be enough for one of the rocks of the Republic’s qualifying campaign.
He said: "If you are a striker or a tricky winger like Aiden McGeady, it could be a little bit different.
"When you are a center-half you don’t need to be as sharp as I would; I need a good five or six games to get sharp.
"As a center-half you can get away with it. Richard looks after himself well anyway, so we just hope he gets back even before that.
"As long as he is fit for the European Championships that’s the most important thing, because the presence that Richard has certainly will help the team."