Kevin Long is hoping that his first Republic of Ireland call-up can end in an international debut next month.
The former Cork City defender impressed Ireland boss Martin O’Neill after making his breakthrough into the Burnley team towards the end of the Premier League season.
He has spent the last few days in Fota Island with the rest of the experimental squad that O’Neill has assembled ahead of the friendlies against Mexico in New Jersey, USA and Uruguay at the Aviva Stadium.
These games are aimed at fine-tuning the team ahead of the crunch Group D World Cup Qualifier meeting with Austria on 11 June.
"I knew a few of the lads already so it was easy to settle in. Training has been really good, intense, so I have been enjoying it," the 27-year-old centre half told RTÉ Sport.
"I just have to keep training hard and, hopefully, I get a chance. If I do I’ll be absolutely delighted.
"I was speaking to one of the lads who plays for Iceland (Burnley’s Johann Berg Gudmundsson) and they played Mexico in America last year and there was 90,000 people at the game. If there’s an atmosphere like that over there again, it would be unbelievable.
"I’m just going to take it one step at a time. This is my first time in the squad, but the aim is to play for my country. If I do well in training it’ll be up to the manager then."
Long’s home in Cork is only a short hop away from Ireland’s Fota Island base so he has been able to catch up with family and friends on this trip back to Ireland. He is also planning to take in Friday night’s Premier Division game between City and Shamrock Rovers at Turner’s Cross.
With his club, he has been playing in the Burnley side alongside established Ireland internationals Robbie Brady, Jeff Hendrick and Stephen Ward – something he feels may have helped him get the call-up.
"Obviously Martin and Roy (Keane) are going to Burnley to watch Robbie, Jeff and Stephen and I was playing in one of those games so I must have caught the eye then," he explained.
"It was a frustrating season overall, but to come into the team towards the end and get a few games was great and then to get a call-up for Ireland is the icing on top. The wait was worth it in the end."
Ireland take on Mexico on 1 June with Uruguay to follow three days later and then there’s a week before Austria visit Dublin.