Carlos Hernandez is aiming to use his return to the Hyundai A-League as a launching pad to be reinstated into the Costa Rican national team.
Carlos Hernandez is not just fit, hungry and motivated to do well for his new club, Wellington Phoenix - the former Johnny Warren Medallist is equally desperate to use his return to the Hyundai A-League as a launching pad to force his way back into the Costa Rican national team in time for the World Cup.
Hernandez, 31, won the last of his 38 caps two years ago in a friendly international against Spain in San Jose, and played no part in the 'Ticos' successful qualifying campaign, when they earned their passage to Brazil with two games to spare.
But a close long-term relationship with national coach Jorge Luis Pinto has opened the door for a recall - possibly as early as next month - as Hernandez looks to force his way back into contention by recapturing the form which made him a such a fan favourite during his previous spell in the Hyundai A-League with Melbourne Victory.
''It is a big motivation for me, to go back to the national team,'' Hernandez says. ''Now Costa Rica is qualified for the World Cup, I have a chance. It is important to play good for Wellington, to be fit and ready, and wait for the coach. I enjoy being in Wellington, I enjoy being back in the A-League. Now I must give 100 percent.''
Being re-united with Ernie Merrick - the man who got the best out of him during his time with the Victory - helps Hernandez, but so does the strength of his connection with Pinto, a Colombian who is in charge of Costa Rica for the second time.
''I know him very well,'' Hernandez says. ''When I play for Alajuelense, he was my coach for three years there. My first game for Alajuelense, he was my coach. My first game for the national team, he was my coach. The relationship is very good. He is confident in me, and this is important.''
It was Pinto who advised Hernandez to cut short his stay in India - where he spent a troubled season with Prayag United after leaving Melbourne - and return to the A-League if he hoped to play in a second World Cup. Hernandez made two appearances off the bench for Costa Rica in Germany in 2006.
''When I speak to the coach, he say to me I need you in a stronger league,'' says Hernandez. ''This was part of my decision to come back to the A-League. It is getting better, much better, every year it is more strong. He (Pinto) believes the A-League is a tough league, a good league, and this is important for me.''
With destiny effectively now in his hands, Hernandez knows he will need to be at his best to force his way into a World Cup squad skippered by Fulham star Bryan Ruiz, and blessed with exciting emerging talent such as Joel Campbell, Bryan Oviedo and Celso Borges.
''The team is very young now,'' he says. ''It is a new generation. Maybe three, or four, players are more than 30 years. The team is very good, very strong, and has a good coach. For me, a second World Cup is a big dream. For any player this is the ultimate for your career.''