Steven Gerrard insists he feels 'fitter, stronger and hungrier than ever' as he nears his Anfield comeback.
The skipper has not featured since March because of a groin injury which required surgery - and has played just six games in total during Kenny Dalglish's second reign.
But after an intense period of rehabilitation which saw Liverpool physios work with him throughout the summer, the 31-year-old is eager to get back into his No.8 shirt.
He believes this could happen as early as when we travel to Tottenham on September 18.
"I feel really good and I'm back kicking balls again - it's all positive," said Gerrard. "I should be back in full training with the team on Thursday or Friday of next week.
"I won't be involved against Stoke next Saturday but my plan is to hopefully be involved in the game against Tottenham. It will be Kenny's decision when I come back in.
"I need to get some full training with the team under my belt and I'll have a better idea of my fitness condition when I play in a practice match which is being arranged.
"At the moment it's all good and I'm itching to get back. In fact it's worse than itching, my stomach is turning.
"It's been a tough five months for me since I had the surgery. It's been up and down emotionally and I've missed playing so much.
"I've had a good rest, I'm fired up and I'm raring to go again. I know I'm going to come back fitter, stronger and hungrier than ever."
Gerrard's recuperation was stalled during pre-season with news that he had acquired an infection.
"I basically had career-saving surgery and it's gone really well," he added.
"I was at the stage where I was outside running again but getting some discomfort from around my pelvis. It was really frustrating because we couldn't work out what the pain was. When blood tests revealed I had an infection it was fantastic news.
"It was strange because I wasn't ill and usually when you get these types of infections you are in bed sick. Intravenous antibiotics cleared it up and I've been pain free for four weeks now.
"Since coming out of hospital my rehab has gone really well. I'm really happy and positive again. My groin is as strong as it's ever been.
"It's not just what doctors and physios are telling me - the stats are there to prove it.
"My groin is tested when I'm working and the physios collect data. My groin scores now are better than before I even started feeling my groin.
"My groin has been fixed and is as strong as ever. What I've done over the past four weeks tells me that's the case and I've got total confidence in it.
"I'm in good shape and feel better than ever. My body weight, fat levels and upper body strength are all good.
"But it will take time for people to see me out playing again and playing well for them to believe what I'm saying in this interview."
During a week-long stay in hospital last month to have treatment for his infection, Gerrard's bosses were quick to offer their support.
"The support I received in hospital meant a lot to me," he said. "The owners, Damien Comolli, Kenny Dalglish and the players all came in to see me.
"After having a bit of a setback that really picked me up.
"The motivation for me is to captain this team to a successful season. I'm looking to come in, strengthen the squad and push on with the lads to hopefully have a good year.
"I've had a good rest. Of course I didn't want that rest but I'm sure it will help me because I've played non-stop football since I was a young lad."
A theory among onlookers is that a player who covered every blade of grass to dominate games during his 20s may have to adapt now he has reached his 30s.
"That's the way I see it when I'm 35 or 36 but I'm only 31," said Gerrard, who signed professional terms with Liverpool in 1997 and has gone on to make 556 appearances to date.
"There will be no reinvention. I'll come back the same player as I was. I still feel I've four or five years at the highest level."
Meanwhile, Gerrard has paid tribute to the physios and doctors who have helped him over the last six months, including those who travelled to and from his holiday home in Portugal to provide treatment.
"They have been unbelievable," he said. "Doctor Zaf (Iqbal) has been either with me or on the phone every day over the past five months.
"Chris Morgan has basically run my whole rehab along with Rob Price. I owe a lot to those three but especially Chris.
"He's a young physio who is considered maybe the fourth physio here but for me he's the best injury rehab physio we have.
"I've worked with many physios over the years at this club and at England level and he's the best I've ever had to do major rehabs with. He's done fantastically well and deserves a lot of credit for the shape he has got me in.
"Chris has been with me since the day of the operation in April. He's been to every hospital to see every doctor and hear every opinion.
"When I've had small setbacks I've been on the phone to him at 1am or 2am. The last five months have been a rollercoaster but he's been there for me and has helped get me through it.
"In the last few weeks the fitness coaches Darren Burgess and Jordan Milsom have done my outside work but I shouldn't really thank them because they have run me into the ground! Seriously, the plan they have had for me has been brilliant."