Ronan Curtis revealed the Republic of Ireland's senior stars are keeping a close eye on the Stephen Kenny’s exciting crop of Under-21s and fully expect them to start knocking on the first-team door sooner rather than later. 

Before Ireland kicked off their friendly against Bulgaria at the Aviva Stadium, many in the dressing room were watching Kenny’s side record a terrific 3-1 win in Sweden that made it three victories from three in their European Championship qualification campaign.

The likes of Troy Parrott, Jayson Molumby and Aaron Connolly are attracting a lot of positive attention, and Portsmouth winger Curtis – who came up against ex-Dundalk boss Kenny on several occasions when he was playing at Derry City– said their feats are not going unnoticed.

Troy Parrott (centre) bagged two goals against the Swedes

"We kept an eye on their game," he said.

"The lads talk about it all the time. Their time will come. They’re doing really well. Stephen Kenny is a very good manager.

"Mick’s always out watching them. There is competition there. It’s a step up (from the Under-21s to the senior team). It was a step up for me when I went England and then when I came into the seniors for the first time. It’s just a case of getting used to it."

Curtis was thrilled to make a first start at the Aviva after enduring some awful luck in the spring.

A freak finger injury ruled him out of the qualifiers against Gibraltar and Georgia, so he's had to bide his time to get a run from the start.

Now, he’s hoping to kick on.

"It’s a dream come true for me to put on that jersey," said Curtis.

"Georgia did well for us (by holding Denmark to a draw). Hopefully we can keep going, use that as an initiative to keep pushing. We’ll just keep doing the same things we’ve done.

"You can’t fault the boys that played on Thursday night (against Switzerland), they’ve been outstanding. But the lads that came in here did well. All we can do is keep working hard."

Reflecting on his own development since making the move to Pompey and stepping from the Ireland Under-21s, Curtis added: "With Ireland, you’re playing with Premier League players. It’s an experience. I’ve learned massively, you learn every day when you’re with them in training.

"You’re playing with better players; they move it quicker, don’t give you any time on the ball. It’s massively different.

"It’s great to get the call-up. I’m just glad I got my start."