Martin Johnson believes Steve Thompson's best days could still be ahead of him after the World Cup-winning hooker was recalled to the England squad for the first time in over three years.
Thompson, 30, won the last of his 47 caps off the bench against Ireland in the 2006 RBS 6 Nations before a neck injury forced him into retirement.
Medics warned Thompson faced paralysis if he ever played again. He completed his move from Northampton to Brive as planned in the summer of 2006 but as a coach not a player.
Within a year, Thompson was beginning to get itchy feet and after consulting further medical opinion both in France and the United States he was cleared to dig out the gumshield and pull on his boots again.
Johnson has been keeping tabs on Thompson's progress for Brive in the French Top 14 via video rather than in person - but he likes what he has seen.
With eight of his RBS 6 Nations squad on Lions duty, Johnson took the opportunity to blood six new caps and recall the experience of Thompson, Ben Kay and Lewis Moody to the England set-up for the summer Test series against Argentina.
Johnson said: "Steve Thompson has been playing very well and he looks in tremendous nick and is really enthusiastic to be involved.
"He has been around a long time and is still relatively young in international front row terms. I hope he has got a lot more to offer."
England play the Barbarians at Twickenham on May 30 before two Tests against Argentina, at Old Trafford on June 6 and a week later in Salta.