Ian McKinley could make his Italy debut in the November internationals after being named in a 31-man provisional squad, with the former Leinster man admitting "it would mean everything" to wear the Azzurri blue.

The 27-year-old out-half lost the sight in his left eye six years ago after a freak on-field accident, with the retina detaching from the eye.

He returned to the game using special goggles approved by rugby authorities and has shone for Treviso in the Pro14.

He told RTÉ Sport: "It’s an honour and privilege to be part of it.

"It would mean everything. Italy has been there for me.

"It is my home now. I’m very much part of the furniture. They supported me during the goggle trial. They were one of the first nations to sign up for the trial.

"Zebre gave me my first chance at playing back in professional rugby in the Pro12. Treviso have stuck with me when maybe other teams wouldn’t have. I owe an awful lot to Italy.

"The best way I can repay that faith is to put my best foot forward and perform at a high level.

"We’re going down to the south of Italy in a group of 31. There will be 23 players selected. They would be the lucky ones that get to wear the jersey so we will see.

"This experience has taught me not to predict anything. Take it day-by-day and we’ll see."

McKinley has targeted a direct improvement for Italy after provincial sides started the year in good fashion with victories and competitive games in the Pro14.  

He added: "I know exactly what my objectives are and I want to put my best foot forward for Italy and want to make sure we are at a consistent level and winning our games.

"I certainly know the coaches and players are hungry for success. We don’t want to be the whipping boys. We want to start winning games consistently. That’s the next challenge.

"There’s has been an improvement from a physical and mental aspect. It’s a huge challenge here in Italy and it’s about having the confidence to say we can do it again. It’s just about doing it on a consistent level."

Conor O’Shea’s appointment as Italy head coach has grown Irish interest in their development, but the connection has mattered little to McKinley.

He said he wanted to be earn his place on form, rather than background, and thanks his family for the support given to get to this stage so far.

"Conor is an ever-present at training sessions between Benetton and Zebre," he said. 

"We hadn’t met too many times. It’s been nice to get to know each other and indeed all the other coaches as well.  

"I don’t expect any sympathy. I want to be there on merit. I think the performances with Benetton have helped. Our performances have been better and more consistent.

"I think that has helped a huge amount. Hopefully that will continue.

"I’m very lucky to have a good support network around me with my wife and my family.

"They certain helped me through the times when hasn’t been exactly easy.  

"I’m very lucky to have them."