Michael O’Neill believes Billy McKay is knocking on the door for a starting berth with Northern Ireland.
McKay has earned two caps to date – the latest of which saw the Inverness striker come off the bench against Luxembourg last month.
The 24-year-old continues to impress in the Scottish Premiership – and was on target twice last weekend as Inverness defeated Hibernian 3-0.
And with Kyle Lafferty suspended for this month’s World Cup qualifier in Azerbaijan, O’Neill believes McKay could be gifted his chance to impress on the international stage.
“Billy is a different type of player to Kyle,” he said.
“He scored twice on Saturday and I am going to watch him play against St Johnstone this weekend.
“Every time he comes away with Northern Ireland he gives you more of a problem with regards whether it is the right time to pick him.
“He did well when he came on against Luxembourg. He is in great form for his club and plays a lone striker role for Inverness.
“So now is the time to give him serious consideration for a starting berth, but it all depends on availability.
“It is nice to have players scoring goals, and Billy has carried off from where he left off last season.”
Palermo striker Lafferty is suspended for the Azerbaijan game but remains on standby for the Group F finale in Israel.
O’Neill played down talk of any lingering rift between the pair following Lafferty’s red card shame against Portugal last month – which earned the wrath of the Northern Ireland boss.
“Kyle is on standby for the Israel game, so the option is there to call him in if it is the right thing to do,” O’Neill said.
“I will look at his club games, but he is an option and I will speak to him between now and then.
“It has nothing to do with his sending off against Portugal that he isn’t in the squad. If you look at the games in this campaign, I think Martin (Paterson) and Jamie (Ward) are giving us more at this time.
“Billy and Will Grigg deserve an opportunity as well and this might be the chance to do that.
“I don’t want to go over old ground, but Kyle knows he was in the wrong and he has apologised to me personally and to the team.
“I wasn’t sure whether he would get three games, but it was only this week we got clarity on the suspension.
“So his availability is there for us.
“I don’t think it would be beneficial to bring Kyle away for nine days, but we will survey things after the first game.”