IRELAND hopeful Stephen Henderson is confident he made the right move in walking away from a Premier League contract to scrap it out in the Championship with Charlton Athletic.
And the former U21 international, still uncapped at senior level, is ready to battle with the other Irish keepers in the Championship for the right to a place in Martin O'Neill's Ireland squad, having quit West Ham to join Charlton earlier this summer.
Saturday's 1-1 London derby draw between Brentford and Charlton didn't set the football world alight but it was a big occasion for Dubliner Henderson, his first full game in 10 months following injury and a taste of what's to come this season, a steady diet of first team football after a frustrating two-year spell in cold storage.
"I had a year left at West Ham but being honest, it wasn't an option for me to stay on," Henderson told The Herald. "There was no way I was going to stay for another year and not play football as I wasn't in the plans at West Ham, I am 26 now and I can't afford to waste another year just sitting on the bench or in the stands, or going out on loan.
"I couldn't just sit there and pick up my money every week as that's not the sort of person I am, so I cut my ties with West Ham, Charlton gave me the opportunity to go there and the move has been great so far," added Henderson, who joined West Ham in 2012 after an impressive season in the Championship with Portsmouth but was unable to get into the Hammers side under Sam Allardyce.
"So last Saturday was a massive day for me as I hadn't played 90 minutes in so long. It was a big day anyway, the first game of the new season and a full house at Brentford, it was a big occasion and I wanted to do well as first impressions count. Luckily I was solid enough in the game and happy with my performance," he added.
International football has been off the agenda for Henderson for some time now. He worked his way into the squad under Giovanni Trapattoni just before Euro 2012, an unused sub in a friendly against the Czech Republic and caretaker boss Noel King called in Henderson as cover for the World Cup qualifiers against Germany and Kazakhstan last year.
Due to injury he has not yet featured under Martin O'Neill but that's something he wants to change.
With no Irish keepers likely to feature regularly in the Premier League (Rob Elliot, Brian Murphy, Shay Given and Ian Lawlor are all seen as back-up), O'Neill is likely to source his goalkeepers in the second tier of English football.
"You have five or six good Irish keepers in the Championship now compared to last season, when we really only had Fordey and Darren Randolph, so that's more competition as we are all playing now and it's up to whoever is playing well, we will keep each other on our toes with our performances," the Addicks goalkeeper added.