Sunderland winger James McClean has been told he has a "90 to 99%" chance of making the Republic of Ireland squad for this summer's Euro 2012 finals.
The 23-year-old former Derry City player has made a significant impact in the Barclays Premier League this season since being thrown in at the deep end by manager Martin O'Neill in December.
Ireland boss Giovanni Trapattoni handed him a first senior international cap as a substitute in February's 1-1 friendly draw with the Czech Republic to a rapturous reception at the Aviva Stadium.
The 73-year-old Italian has insisted all along his squad for Poland and Ukraine will comprise largely of those men who got the Republic there, but having indicated that there is still room for the likes of McClean, Wigan's James McCarthy and Everton midfielder Darron Gibson to force their way into his plans, he provided a further tantalising hint when he spoke to journalists yesterday.
Trapattoni told the Sunday Independent McClean has a "90 to 99% chance of going to Poland."
McClean scored his sixth goal of the season, a powerfully-struck free-kick, in his club's 2-2 Premier League draw with Bolton at the Stadium of Light yesterday.
Trapattoni will name his 23-man squad on 7 May.
He received a boost yesterday when central defender Richard Dunne started Aston Villa's 0-0 draw at West Brom on his return from a fractured collar bone.
Trapattoni, who has monitored the 32-year-old Dunne's progress since his misfortune struck in February, said: "I was worried. I said, 'Be careful, we need you'.
"He will be important for us. All players in the squad are important, but especially Richard Dunne. For us, he is one of the strongest."