DARREN O'DEA hopes that Ireland's Euro 2012 squad stays intact to make a stab at qualification for the 2014 World Cup finals.
O'Dea is one of seven players from Ireland's 23-man squad in Poland who never got a chance to taste action on the field, but the defender is likely to be around for the next bout of competitive action, the start of the World Cup qualifiers in September.
If Richard Dunne decides to retire from international football, that would free up a slot in the starting XI for someone to take over, with current squad members like O'Dea, Stephen Kelly and Paul McShane waiting in the wings as well as possible new recruits such as U21 cap Shane Duffy and Reading man Alex Pearce, but O'Dea says he's not eager to see Dunne hang up his boots.
"It would be best overall if this squad was kept together as a unit, because we have some real talent here and we can do well in the World Cup qualifiers," O'Dea told the Evening Herald.
"If some of the senior players decide to quit then it's up to other lads to step up to the mark and hopefully I can get a chance, if that happens," added O'Dea, who admitted that he did not expect to see much action at Euro 2012.
"I knew coming out here that Richard Dunne and Sean St Leger would be the first-choice central defenders. Of course, you still dream about playing and you're ready to play if needed. All I can do is stay in the squad now and hope that one day I will be one of the first-choice centre-halves.
"I want to play but I understand that myself and the other squad players didn't get a chance. The Euros was great for Ireland. I know from the stories back home that the whole country was on a huge buzz, especially going into the Croatia game.
"But you lose a game and then another and all of a sudden it's all doom and gloom. Football is like that. It's up and down and as long as we stick together as a group and as a squad we will be okay.
"We have fantastic players in this squad, we just need to get our heads right and get over this disappointment."
O'Dea is one of the players from the Euro 2012 squad who is certain to move in the summer as he's ended his time with Celtic. "I haven't thought about my club situation over the last month as I was focused on Ireland," he says.
"The reason you have an agent is to look after stuff like that and I didn't even speak to my agent for most of the time we were away as I wanted to keep my mind on Ireland. Once I get home now I will deal with all of that and see what happens with the move."