Tottenham Hotspur defender Michael Dawson admits he can't wait for his first Premier League appearance since August as the north-London club bid to gate-crash the title race with a win against Everton on Wednesday.
Spurs manager Harry Redknapp has been keen to focus on securing the top four finish that would guarantee UEFA Champions League action next season, but the possibility of competing for the English title is beginning to ignite passions at White Hart Lane.
Redknapp's side have lost just one of their last 17 league matches and will move within three points of leaders Manchester City, as well as drawing level on points with second-placed Manchester United, if they beat David Moyes' men at White Hart Lane.
Tottenham have only once had a better league record after 19 games in the top flight and that was during the 1960/61 season when they last won the league.
In the circumstances, a win on Wednesday is bound to spark talk of the club's first sustained challenge for the title since the 1984/85 season when they finished third behind Everton and Liverpool, and Dawson knows he couldn't have timed his return from injury any better.
"The lads are flying so it's good to be back. It's an exciting time here, definitely," Dawson said. "Long may it continue. The lads have earned the right to be where they are and they deserve it. I have watched them and they are flying high so I am looking forward to being part of it."
Dawson was back from a four-month Achilles injury lay-off on Saturday and captained Tottenham to a 3-0 victory over Cheltenham in the FA Cup third round and he is expected to line up at the heart of Redknapp's defence against Everton.
With Ledley King facing yet another spell on the sidelines with a suspected hamstring problem and William Gallas hit by a calf tear, there is no time for Dawson to ease his way back into action.
The 28-year-old will play his second game in five days alongside Younes Kaboul and has no qualms about being thrown in at the deep end after such a serious injury. "I was out for three months last year and I then went out to play lots of games so it's not the first time this has happened," he said.
"Injuries are hard and when you come back you need to come back and perform at the best of your ability and I will always back myself to do that. I didn't feel any reaction to the injury (on Saturday). I feel good."
Sandro is also out of Wednesday's game with a calf injury and Redknapp will give a test to Scott Parker after the English midfielder had an injection in his knee problem last weekend.
Everton seek answers
Everton have won three of their last five visits to White Hart Lane and have been beaten only once in eight meetings with the north Londoners. But Toffees boss Moyes admits his squad's confidence is still at a low ebb after an erratic first half of the season.
Everton laboured to kill off non-league Tamworth before winning 2-0 in the FA Cup third round on Saturday and Moyes said: "It's not ideal that we are lacking a bit of creativity at the moment. You think you may create a bit more (against teams like Tamworth), but it seems to be right through at the moment.
"I think there is a confidence issue there. We could have done with trying to get a few goals to see if we can get that feeling of scoring regularly, but we didn't."