Tottenham Hotspur defender Younes Kaboul has vowed both he and his friend, Arsenal's Abou Diaby, will return to top form as they battle back from long-term injuries.
Kaboul has not played in the Premier League for more than a year after undergoing an operation for tendonitis in a knee before tearing a thigh muscle in April on his return in a match with Spurs' reserve side.
Diaby is due to return in November after rupturing knee ligaments last March, the latest in a long list of injury setbacks which has blighted the midfielder's career. However Kaboul, who has been close to his north London rival ever since they played together for four years at Auxerre, told L'Equipe the duo's painful past would not affect their future.
"We dig in, which allows us to move forward," he said. "We have the same temperament, the same vision of things. He too is strong mentally and will get back to his best.
"When you're injured for a long time, people don't talk too much about you. Some of them say: 'He's done, it's finished'. But it's never too late. As soon as you have three good games, you become the best again. We know how it goes."
With national team coach Didier Deschamps still tinkering in an attempt to find the right blend in midfield, Diaby's international prospects are rosier than those of Kaboul, who has seen youngsters such as Raphael Varane and Eliaquim Mangala emerge to join Mamadou Sakho, Adil Rami, Laurent Koscielny and Philippe Mexes as serious contenders for the two central defensive positions.
Having missed Euro 2012 due to injury, Kaboul has lost the momentum he gained during Laurent Blanc's tenure at the head of Les Bleus, when the ex-Portsmouth man started five of the seven internationals played between June and October 2011. However, he remains confident he can still manoeuvre himself into position for a place on the plane to Brazil next summer.
"[Euro 2012] should have been my first major competition, and finally, I missed out. It was a huge disappointment. I miss Les Bleus. I had started really well, but after that I went without playing. When I get back to my best, the French national team will be my number one priority. I want to establish myself," said Kaboul, who has five caps and a goal for his country.
"It's a little early right now, because I've been away from the pitch for a year. But it's in a corner of my mind. I believe I can do it. With regard to the defenders, there are some very good players, but I think there's an opening. I'll do all I can to go to the World Cup. I have to go there."