'It's great to have Martin O'Neill saying things like that about a League of Ireland player' - Daryl Horgan
DARYL HORGAN is pleased to be on Martin O'Neill's radar but would prefer to be in his squad.
The Dundalk winger missed out on the provisional Ireland panel for the World Cup qualifiers against Georgia and Moldova with O'Neill suggesting he would have been named if it wasn't for his hectic schedule of fixtures.
Horgan was disappointed his name was absent from the list and says that he would be confident about his chances of making an impact if he was given the opportunity.
The 24-year-old's exclusion became a discussion point again last night when he excelled in Dundalk's entertaining 3-1 win over Derry City.
"I'd like to have been in the squad but he (O'Neill) knows what's going on. There's so many games," said Horgan, "He's got his squad set out so hopefully they do well.
"I didn't expect it to be honest. It's great to have an international manager saying things like that about a League of Ireland player. It shows how far the league has come the last while, the European games are improving the profile of all the teams and it's great to have League of Ireland players being mentioned alongside players from the Premier League and Championship."
Ultimately, it is the performances of Dundalk in the Europa League against established internationals that have put them in the picture.
"The biggest issue with international football, is that they always thought that you're not at the highest level consistently enough," said Horgan, "But at the minute, we are able to compete at that level and that shows how the league has kicked on. The professionalism and quality of player has improved.
"There's always the perception that the league itself isn't strong. While I would disagree with that, that's probably the perception and when you go onto that (European) stage, and the teams are Champions League regulars and massive clubs from other countries...seeing teams from Ireland competing boosts the profile.
"I might go in (to Ireland squad) and be miles off it but I'd fancy myself. You have to back yourself. I'd like to think if I went in, I could do something. It wouldn't be something I'd be phased by. I don't think anyone from our squad would be."
Horgan is out of contract with Dundalk at the end of the season after signing a one year deal to keep his options open.
In an ideal world, he would like to be able to stay at home and fulfil his ambitions but the young father has to take the bigger picture into consideration.
"Obviously there's other things, the financial and whatnot," he said. "Unfortunately I don't think we'll ever have that in Ireland. It would be great if we could but at the minute we're just not there. That's a discussion for another day."
His manager Stephen Kenny knows it will be a challenge to hold onto Horgan having lost Richie Towell to Brighton last winter.
Kenny always felt he had players in his dressing room with the potential to represent their country and he hasn't given up on Towell reaching that stage either.
"I had seven players at Derry that went on and were capped and I felt this group could go on and get caps. Richie's had injuries but I always felt there was a good few more.
"A lot of people said that it seemed far-fetched to say it two years ago, but I think I’ve shown that I was quite accurate in what I was saying. Some of them are doing really well. Daryl has been brilliant," he said.
Dundalk play a league match with Sligo Rovers (October 7) between the Georgia and Moldova clashes (October 6 and October 9) and they then face a huge showdown with Cork City (October 11) so a call for Horgan might have presented a problem for Kenny - as O'Neill pointed out.
But the Dundalk boss said there was no contact from Irish management. "I haven't spoken to him about it," he said. "That is a little busy period for us.
"It’s good that Martin’s mentioned him. It means that he’s at the forefront of his thoughts. I’m sure he’ll monitor him in the remaining Europa League games as well. Tonight he would have seen a terrific display."
Horgan's next chance to advertise his quality is in Thursday's Europa League tie with Maccabi Tel-Aviv in Tallaght.