Alex Cuthbert would be "lucky" to regain his Wales place even if Liam Williams is ruled out of the Rugby World Cup, according to Dafydd James.
Williams, who took Cuthbert's place on the wing during the Six Nations, will miss Wales' first two warm up matches following foot surgery.
Ex-Wales centre James says Cuthbert faces a big task to win the shirt back.
"He'll be very lucky if he gets back in," he said. "I don't think he's put his hand up this season."
Cardiff Blues' back Cuthbert, 25, has not played for Wales since their 26-23 win over Scotland in February at Murrayfield, their second match of Six Nations.
He was left out of the matchday squads altogether for their three remaining fixtures.
The previously prolific Cuthbert failed to score in 11 of the 14 matches he played for his region in the Pro12 during 2014-15, but crossed twice in their final fixture of the campaign against bottom side Zebre.
He has been included in Wales' 47-man World Cup training squad which will be trimmed down to 31 at the end of August and James told Radio Wales Sport that the winger needs to improve.
"It's down to mental attitude possibly," the 2001 British Lion said. "It depends how he goes in the training camp.
"If I was in the training camp and I was one of the backs I'd see this as a massive opportunity to really step up my game, show what you can do and put your hands up."
Wales head coach Warren Gatland is "optimistic" Williams, 24, will recover in time to take part in the World Cup.
James says losing the Scarlets' back would be a setback for Wales, who are already without injured centre Jonathan Davies (knee).
"It would be a massive blow," said James. "He's certainly a valuable commodity to have in the back division.
"He seems to create a hell of a lot of try-scoring opportunities, which we've seen him doing time and time again for Scarlets, but also for Wales this season. So let's hope he makes a speedy recovery."