Newcastle’s Rob Elliot believes regular Premier League football is a must - if he is to have a chance of playing at next summer’s World Cup.
Elliot missed out on the chance to represent the Republic of Ireland in the European Championships last year due to injury.
I was absolutely devastated to miss the European Championships
And having reinstated himself as the United No 1 at the back end of last season, he’s hopeful that a return to the top flight with the Magpies will open up his international prospects, too.
“It’s massive,” he said of playing in the top flight again.
“I might be getting a little bit ahead of myself but that is in the back of my mind.”
United have made little secret of the fact they are in the hunt for a new keeper this summer.
The addition of a Pepe Reina, linked in recent weeks, or another high-calibre goalie could quite easily damage Elliot’s Russia 2018 dream. So precarious is his position that even a good pre-season for a Karl Darlow, for example, could derail that.
“I missed the Euros, I was absolutely devastated to miss the Euros,” continued Elliot.
“The lads were unbelievable and did the country proud.
“If I can be involved and can help in anyway, and if I can get back playing in the Premier League, hopefully, it can make up for missing what was a brilliant year of football.
“Let’s just hopefully play some games and go from there.”
Newcastle’s goalkeeping department is under particular scrutiny from Benitez and his coaches this summer.
Loyalty and sentiment are not on the agenda as United and Benitez look to build a squad capable of not only competing in the top flight, but thriving also.
Matz Sels is likely to be shipped out, while Tim Krul, who has spent his whole senior career on Tyneside, is also unlikely to return to the club and be handed the gloves.
Darlow, despite his heroics at times in the second tier, also faces an uncertain future.