Under normal circumstances Real Madrid forward Marco Asensio would be on international duty with Spain, but injury problems at the start of the season mean he will watch Tuesday's game against Ukraine from home.
The forward missed most of last season after knee surgery and although he was able to return after the break for the coronavirus, another knee injury interrupted his start to the new season.
"These days are a bit strange because it's a long time since I have not been called up," admitted Asensio on radio station Onda Cero, Xinhua news reports.
"I used to like the international games as it was something different and I will keep working to get back," commented the forward, who said he had a "very good" relationship with Spain national team coach Luis Enrique.
Asensio looked back on the knee injury he suffered in pre-season in the summer of 2019, when he damaged his cruciate ligament.
"I get goosebumps when I remember it: I knew the moment it happened that it was serious ... Going into the operating theatre was one of the worst moments of my life -- I was panicking and I said 'put me to sleep as I can't stand this," he admitted.
"I also had a lot of days in my recovery when I wondered how I was going to play football again, but there were also good days that I'll never forget, such as starting to walk and it not hurting and then being able to run and in my first game back I scored after just 25 seconds."
"Now I value my health a lot more, because it is horrible being stopped for so long and you really suffer," explained the 24-year-old, who is now looking forward to the new campaign.
"I never said I am going to be the leader, but I am more prepared than ever for this season and I am tremendously excited by it," concluded Asensio.