CONOR SAMMON has spoken of his delight in receiving a first Ireland call-up for next month's friendly against Poland.
The 26-year-old striker has made his way into international football the hard way, starting with UCD and Derry City in the League of Ireland, before playing for Kilmarnock, where he earned a move to the Premier League with Wigan Athletic.
Although he failed to nail down a regular spot under Roberto Martinez, the Dubliner did enough to secure a £1.2m move to Derby County last summer and it is his form for the Rams that has compelled Giovanni Trapattoni to watch the forward in person over the last two weeks.
The Italian praised Sammon's skill set and said he is likely to get his chance in the February 6 friendly, saying: "Sammon has great technique, it's something that really impressed me, he has the potential to add quite a bit."
And, although he thought Trapattoni had been to Derby's games to see his team-mate Jeff Hendrick who also received a call-up along with Richard Keogh, Sammon was delighted to hear that the Ireland boss held him in such esteem.
"That's really nice to hear," he said. "I'm very excited to be linking up with the squad and meeting the boys. I'm looking forward to training and, with the massive games in the qualifying campaign coming up, I'd love to be part of that.
"I got the text earlier today from the club secretary, stating that I'd been called up along with Jeff Hendrick and Richard Keogh for the friendly against Poland.
"I was aware that the manager had been to watch the games against Brighton and Nottingham Forest, but I believed he was there to watch Jeff Kendrick, who did well for the Ireland U-21s. But I am glad to have caught the eye and to get the chance to link up and impress the manager."
Sammon is one of six strikers named in a squad that does not include captain Robbie Keane, who is rested. And the forward believes he can make an impact and add something to the Irish set up.
"I played up front on my own in a 4-5-1 and I really enjoy that role. There is lots of space and when there are three men marking you – that leaves gaps that sometimes don't come up," Sammon added.
"I feel I can do a job and there are great target men in the Irish squad like Jon Walters, so I'd like to think I can add something to the team."
And Sammon believes that the decision to call up three players from the midlands club is a testament to the work being done at Derby County.
"It's been incredible and it is great recognition for Derby," he said. " Nigel Clough has created a squad of young, hungry players and this is a reward.
"I've had so many messages from team-mates, ex-team-mates at UCD, Derry, Kilmarnock and Wigan and my family are delighted and really looking forward to upcoming game."