Shay McCartan is hoping to repay Michael O’Neill for the faith he shown in him.
The Bradford City striker made his senior debut in the friendly against New Zealand in June and was thrilled to earn another call up for the games against San Marino and the Czech Republic as other high-profile names missed out.
“It was a great honour. I saw that I was called up but I didn’t know who else was in the squad until it was announced,” he said.
“The likes of Will Grigg is a massive player, he scored 25 goals in League One, for Michael to give me the nod ahead of him is a great honour, it’s good for my confidence as well, hopefully I can reward him.”
McCartan made the switch to Valley Parade in the summer after bagging eleven goals for Accrington Stanley. He said one of the big deciding factors on the move was to cement a place in the international squad in the same way Josh Magennis has done.
“He’s playing League One and so am I, so if he can do it obviously I can do it as well,” said Mccartan.
“There’s a few players playing in League One - the likes of Shane Ferguson and Conor McLaughlin before he moved to Millwall. It’s a good standard of football and I’m enjoying it.
“When you play in League Two it’s hard to get recognised as an International footballer.
“Part of making the move was to get called up to games like this International break. It helps playing with better players every day, it improves you as a player. Hopefully I continue to improve and continue being selected for the squads.
“It’s a massive difference playing at Bradford. At Accrington we were averaging between 1,500 and 2,000 fans, whereas at Bradford we are averaging 19,000 fans.
“It’s a big change, there’s a lot more pressure as well, but as a professional footballer you have to get used to that.
“You want to play in front of the biggest crowds as a kid growing up and I’m doing that now.
“Hopefully we can move up the table and push for promotion.”
McCartan is also hoping to have plenty to celebrate with Northern Ireland starting on Monday night against the Czechs.
“The game against New Zealand is probably the biggest crowds I have saw there,” he said.
“Obviously in the last few years Northern Ireland has been doing better and the crowds and attendances have improved.
“It will be a great atmosphere on Monday night, I’m really looking forward to it.
“We just have to keep our heads and do what we have been doing all campaign.
“We’ve only conceded two goals, that in itself is a great achievement. So we have to keep doing what we are doing and come away with the points.”