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Sheridan eager to step up and cement his team place for club and country

CAVAN man Cillian Sheridan is praying he can make use of a two-week stint training with the senior Ireland team to stake his claim for a permanent place on the Irish panel.

Sheridan has served his time with the Irish U21 side, scoring twice in nine games, but now the Celtic player has a chance to push on to the next level as injuries have offered him a chance with the seniors.

Sheridan earned a late call-up over the weekend along with another uncapped player, Manchester City's Greg Cunningham.

Robbie Keane and Kevin Doyle are the established first-choice strikers under Giovanni Trapattoni, with a supporting cast that includes half a dozen strikers.

Caleb Folan, Andy Keogh and Noel Hunt are not in Dublin for training this week due to injury, but Shane Long, Anthony Stokes and Leon Best have been in previous squads under Trapattoni and they are ahead of pretenders such as Sheridan, who admits he has work to do before he can earn a permanent place in the squad.

"I have to try and put myself in the manager's thoughts. There is world-class competition ahead of me with the likes of Robbie and Kevin.

"So if I get a chance in the two friendlies, hopefully I can do well and impress," said Sheridan, who first attracted attention from Trapattoni when he played in both legs of Celtic's Champions League battle with Manchester United two seasons ago.

"There was a bit of talk about me in relation to Ireland in the papers when I was doing well for Celtic and playing in the Champions League. Then things went quiet as I was away from Celtic and on loan (at Motherwell, Plymouth and St Johnstone), so I wasn't in people's minds. So getting into the squad now is a bonus for me," added Sheridan.

"I hadn't planned on being here so it's a surprise. I was supposed to be going to the FA Cup final at Wembley on Saturday. Jody Morris was with us at St Johnstone last season so he had arranged for a few lads to go down and see the final, but then the call came from the FAI so I was happy to miss the Cup final.

"I had no holidays booked so it was no problem for me to come to Dublin and train with the squad."

The season just gone was a difficult one for Sheridan, who didn't play a single game for Celtic due to loan spells with Plymouth and St Johnstone, the second one the more successful.

"The season definitely finished better for me, compared to the start of the season. I was at Plymouth for a few months but it didn't go all that well and I didn't play as I'd have liked.

"But I came to St Johnstone and it was a completely different feeling. I was playing every week and scoring goals, and it was great for my confidence," he said.

"I scored for St Johnstone against Rangers and that was a nice feeling, a lot of Celtic fans congratulated me on that."

On the future of the Celtic manager's role, Sheridan said: "It would be good to see Neil Lennon get the job. I have worked with him for a while now at Celtic and he knows what kind of player I am. I don't know how highly he rates me but I have been happy to work with him before, I was only there for a month when Neil was on the staff as I went out on loan but I have spoken to the other Celtic players and they are very happy with Neil."

The former Belvedere player has previously stated his intention to leave Celtic if he's unable to make an impact at Parkhead next term.

"I have a full season left at Celtic so I am to make an impression next season. I don't think any player should be content with being on the bench all the time, getting the odd game here and there as a sub. At this stage of my career I need to play and play every week. That's my aim for next season, to work hard with Celtic and get into the team," he added.