They say there is no greater honour in sport than representing your country.
And Owls striker Caolan Lavery could be plunged into the international arena over the next month.
The 22-year-old is expected to be included in the Northern Ireland squad for their friendly against Qatar, a behind-closed-doors training match versus the Republic of Ireland and crucial European Championship 2016 qualifier at home to Romania on June 13 when it is named by manager Michael O’Neill today.
It is understood O’Neill watched Lavery in action in Wednesday’s 2-1 home defeat to Leeds United last month. The Northern Ireland chief had planned on naming Lavery in his 23-man squad for their South America tour last summer but the player was unavailable for selection due to attending his brother’s wedding.
Having worked closely with Lavery in recent years, Owls coach Lee Bullen is happy to see the striker’s hard work be rewarded.
The Scot, who became a Hillsborough legend by leading Wednesday to promotion from League One via play-offs in 2005, told The Star: “I am delighted for Caolan; he fully deserves his call-up.
“He has been involved in the Under-21s before so it is the next step on the ladder for him. This will certainly give him a boost whether he is watching from the bench or involved himself.”
After recovering from a serious knee injury last season, Lavery struggled to force his way into Stuart Gray’s first-team plans and was allowed to join Chesterfield on loan in February.
He bagged three goals in eight appearances for the Spireites before being recalled by Wednesday to ease their striker shortage. Oozing confidence and self-belief, Lavery made a big impact as a substitute against Rotherham United and his impressive cameo paved the way for him to start the Owls’ final seven Championship fixtures.
“Caolan needed that spell at Chesterfield after coming back from injury,” admitted Bullen.
“He was a couple of gears down on the level he was at before so needed to get some minutes under his belt.
“Whether he starts or comes off the bench, Caolan gives you that energy and there is an honesty to his game. He is willing to do his defensive and attacking duties. He is not shy of taking a shot and you have to have that ruthless streak as a striker. There will be times when Caolan will make a wrong decision but he is positive and doesn’t pass the buck.
“Hopefully this call-up will give Caolan an extra lift and and he will comeback for pre-season training on July 1 full of confidence, well rested and wanting to show why he deserves to be our number one striker next season.”