BOURNEMOUTH star Eunan O'Kane, in FA Cup action against Liverpool tomorrow, hopes he can catch the eye of his fellow Derry man Martin O'Neill and work his way into the senior Republic of Ireland squad.
Former Northern Ireland U21 cap O'Kane switched to the Republic in 2012 and so far he has come close to senior honours, being placed on standby last year, but the 23-year-old feels the call from O'Neill could come.
"It's an ambition of mine to get into the senior squad and I hope I can win a cap at some stage," says O'Kane, who had a spell in the Irish League with Coleraine before his move back to England.
"I can't expect it right now, there are a lot of good players available to Martin O'Neill, players who have been in the Premier League or Championship for a while and this is only my first season in the Championship. I am not sitting by the phone waiting for the call because I know I will have to wait my turn," added O'Kane who is, like O'Neill, from a small village in Co Derry (Feeny in his case).
"I think the background of the Ireland manager and assistant could help me. I know that Martin O'Neill isn't going to pick me for the squad just because I am from Derry like him, but having taken the route I did take, it won't do me any harm," he says.
"Martin O'Neill played in the Irish League for Distillery, Roy Keane played in the League of Ireland so I don't think they will dismiss me because I was with Coleraine a while back.
"They are two people that I would love to work with but it will take a lot of hard work before I receive that phone call from the FAI."