England striker Michael Owen has admitted he feared his World Cup dream was over when he was told he needed another operation on his injured foot.
The 26-year-old Newcastle marksman panicked when his surgeon informed him the fracture had not healed fully last month, and so did much of the country.
But after being reassured that the setback was only a minor one, Owen quickly agreed to undergo surgery to hasten his recovery ahead of this summer's tournament in Germany.
'When the surgeon called me, there was that panic as well,' he admitted. 'He said `I think you should go in and have another operation', and I panicked then.
'It had healed three-quarters, but it was still giving me a little pain after I had this little setback, and he couldn't guarantee whether that little last quarter would heal in four weeks or 12 weeks.
'I needed to guarantee it wasn't going to be 12 weeks, and the only way that was going to happen was if I had a slightly bigger screw in just so that the thread wouldn't be in the same place.
'There was nothing wrong with the initial operation, it was just that the final gap hadn't healed.
'That operation, unless I had any setbacks in the meantime, would guarantee a six-week maximum time out, so I decided to have another one.'
Owen is currently working his way back to full fitness, and although he is setting himself no comeback date, he is confident he will play again for his club this season before setting his sights of the World Cup finals.
'I'm confident, as long as I don't have anymore setbacks or any muscular problems, as a lot of people can have when they come back from long-term injuries,' he said.
'As long as I don't have any of that, then I'll be fit to play for Newcastle this season, and England will look after itself.
'I'm not overly concerned about the World Cup and things like that. At the minute, my target is playing in the Premiership again.'
Injuries have meant Owen has played just 10 games for the Magpies since completing his £17million move from Real Madrid in August, and that is a source of intense frustration.
Indeed, he admits he feels embarrassed by that return despite managing seven goals in those 10 games before disaster struck in a challenge with international team-mate Paul Robinson at Tottenham on New Year's Eve.
'God help me if I didn't do that because if I'd played 10 games and only scored one or two goals, then I really would be feeling low,' he said.
'That's the only thing that's made the season bearable, that when I've played, I've scored a few goals. That makes it slightly better, but I need to play more than 10 games this season to feel as if I've given any return.
'I feel a bit embarrassed, to be honest, having only played 10 games this season when they have paid £17million or £16million or whatever the fee was.
'For them to pay that money and me to only play 10 games - obviously, it's no fault of my own, I couldn't pull out when there was a chance to score a goal and these things happen in football - means there is still something inside me feels a little bit guilty for walking into the treatment room every day instead of walking out on to the training pitch.
'Whether that's right or wrong, that's how I feel and I need to at least show my face one or two more times before the season finishes.'
Meanwhile, Owen has admitted he would prefer an Englishman to succeed national coach Sven-Goran Eriksson after the World Cup, with Football Association chiefs meeting on Wednesday to discuss the way ahead.
'If I had my wish, I suppose I'd say I'd prefer it to be English than not,' he told Sky Sports News.
'The criteria is always get the best man for the job, but if that man could be English, then great.'