PATIENCE has paid off for Ireland U21 keeper Aaron McCarey as he has finally made his league debut for Wolves, four years after he first joined the Molineux club from the League of Ireland.
And the former Monaghan United man has now set himself the twin goals of keeping his place in a Wolves side which is aiming for automatic promotion back to the Championship, as well as maintaining his progress at international level, having gained a taste of the big time when he was briefly promoted to the senior squad by Giovanni Trapattoni last year.
Experienced Wolves keeper Wayne Hennessy is in the bad books at the club after he refused to play last weekend, apparently as the Welsh international did not want to jeopardise a possible move away.
Injury to Wolves number one Carl Ikeme had opened the door for Hennessy to start against Gillingham last Friday night but he declined the chance to play, though the club have since confirmed that Hennessy has apologised for his stance and has been disciplined by Wolves.
That meant McCarey was next in line for the keeper's shirt and while Wolves went down 1-0 to Gillingham, a defeat which denied them the chance to go top of the League One table, boss Kenny Jackett praised the Monaghan man's efforts in goal, and now McCarey is keen to stay there.
"This is my fourth year here and that's a long time to wait for your league debut but I knew it would come and now I want more of the same," McCarey told the Herald.
"I can't say too much about how my opportunity came along, it's none of my business what happened between another player and the club, but I was glad to get the chance and I don't think I let myself or the club down.
"It was disappointing to lose and I would have liked to mark my league debut with a win but I played well, the team did well and we just got caught with a late goal.
"I don't know if I will stay in the team now, it looks like Carl Ikeme will be out for four to six weeks, so we need a keeper. The manager can pick between myself and Wayne Hennessy to play, but I feel I did enough to stay in the team and get a good run of games in over the next few weeks," added McCarey, a native of Scotstown in Co Monaghan.
He had already played first team football, for Mick Cooke's Monaghan United side, before he secured a move to Wolves in 2010, but chances were limited.
Last season he had a spell on loan to Walsall and this term he was loaned out to League Two side York City, helping the 21-year-old build up his match fitness before the call came from Wolves last week.
Boss Jackett was certainly pleased with the Irish keeper.
"It opened up a chance for Aaron, who I rate very highly both as a goalkeeper and as a man, and he didn't disappoint," says Jackett.
"I thought his handling and his levels of confidence were terrific and he should be commended, he has had a good start to his Wolves career."
Wolves showed their faith in McCarey by handing him a new two-year deal earlier this season so his future at club level is secure, but he is also aiming high at international level.
Established as first-choice keeper at U21 level, he got a late call from Trapattoni last summer to join the senior squad as cover for the friendly against Spain in the USA, and while McCarey was an unused sub, the experience was one to savour.
"Just being on the bench for a game against the world and European champions was something else," he says.
"I know I have a long way to go before I can get into the senior squad on a regular basis and I will only do that if I am playing first team football at a good level.
"But it has shown me that it can happen, and getting into the senior panel again is an ambition of mine. With Keiren Westwood out injured now, the chance is there for young keepers to impress, we have a new manager with Ireland and we are all trying to catch the eye, hopefully in time it can happen for me."