Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill has told Caolan Lavery to keep turning in impressive performances for Sheffield Wednesday and then the striker will be a mainstay in the international set-up.
The Owls frontman was left somewhat disappointed when a first senior cap failed to materialise in the albeit strange experience of a 1-1 friendly draw against future World Cup hosts Qatar at Crewe Alexandra’s Gresty Road, with Lavery one of just a few players who never came off the bench.
O’Neill warned that no one should read too much into the fact that Lavery failed to make it onto the pitch.
The former Shamrock Rovers manager gave Ross County’s Liam Boyce - who scored seven goals in his last seven games in the Scottish Premier League - the nod this time but believes there will be plenty of opportunities ahead for Lavery if he keeps up the kind of form that saw him maintain a place in the first team squad at Hillsborough after a spell on loan at Chesterfield.
And if Northern Ireland carry on their form in the Euro 2016 qualifiers, that could mean a trip to France next summer.
O’Neill said: “Caolan is one that will continue to develop with us and if his club career continues the way it’s going then obviously he is going to push to stay in the squad and then it is up to him if he can push to be a starter.”