The eight-time world champion is in the paddock at this weekend’s Austrian MotoGP for the first time since undergoing a fourth arm operation which has ruled him out of most of this season.

But he returns from a career-threatening injury to find Honda in dire straits.

“The truth came out, why he was having this last operation,” Hodgson said on BT Sport.

“It was ‘have the operation or retire’. He was in that much discomfort. He wasn’t able to physically attack the bike like he used to.

“It is last chance saloon.”

Guintoli added: “How revved up is he! You can see in his eyes that he wants to come back.

“And he doesn’t want to come back just to play around on the bike. He wants to be competitive.

“He is here to tell Honda: ‘Hey guys, we need to push further, we need to get back on top, we need to be back next year dominating again like we used to’.

“Things have slipped away. The 2022 Honda is still not working like it should.

“There is a big push coming from Marquez and from Honda.”

Honda endured the ultimate ignominy of not scoring a single point in a MotoGP race for the first time in 40 years earlier this campaign, while star man Marquez was on the sidelines.

Even his return, given the magnitude of his injury, is uncertain. Although he hopes to race this season and compete for the title in 2023, everything depends on how his troublesome arm heals.

An X-ray in the days after the Austrian MotoGP will reveal whether he can step up into the next phase of rehab.

“I am optimistic because, at the moment, everything is going good,” Marquez told BT Sport.

“At the moment I am not pushing a lot. We are waiting for the 12th week [after surgery], which is next week [after the Austrian MotoGP] because I will have a new X-ray. They will analyse where the bone is, how the bone is, and if the bone is fixed. 

“Then we will start to increase the repetitions.

“I feel really good but there is always this doubt in your head.

“When I start to push heavy weights and ride bikes, immediately I will understand if the arm is working.

“I have a big doctor’s check, an X-ray, and they will decide if I am allowed to push more.

“When I can increase my repetitions, we will understand when I can ride a bike.

“Now, I cannot say. Now I feel good. But when I push something, the lack of power is there. The lack of muscle is there.

“We are taking our time. It is important [not to take] too big a step.

“The light at the end of the tunnel is there.

“I am optimistic but taking care of myself.

“I don’t know, I can’t say that I will come back at [any specific race].”

Marquez insists that he is taking a leadership role with his appearance in the paddock at the Red Bull Ring to inspire Honda ahead of 2023.

“I am talking a lot to Stefan Bradl and the Japanese engineers to understand how to improve the project, how to improve the team, how to improve all areas,” he said.

“I try to be involved.

“I am not here [at the Austrian MotoGP] to watch bikes on the track. I am here for meetings with my mechanics and engineers, to understand if everybody is working in the right direction.

“The most important thing for Honda is to keep motivation and spirit. I am here to say to them that I will be ready next year so we need to come back to the top.

“Not only with me, with all of the riders. We need to again be the victors of the category.”