Wales coach Warren Gatland has warned Gavin Hanson he must return to international duty in time for next season's RBS 6 Nations or face watching the 2011 World Cup from the comfort of his sofa.
Henson has been on indefinite leave from Ospreys since last summer and has been out of action since March 2008 with a succession of ankle and groin injuries.
The 28-year-old initially looked set to walk away from the game but is now tipped to resume his rugby career in the Magners League next season.
But if the mercurial centre – who featured in Wales' 2005 and 2008 Grand Slam wins – wants to play a part in New Zealand 2011, Gatland insists he must be back in the national squad in time to face England on February 4.
“The most important thing is to be playing really well and to be in contention for the Six Nations,” said Gatland.
“After that it’s too late. That is the latest you would expect Gavin to be back and playing well so that he is potentially available.
“The autumn Tests will probably be too early for him, but the Six Nations, if he is playing well enough, he may be a possibility for the World Cup."