CHERRIES boss Eddie Howe believes consistency will be the key to Josh McQuoid reviving his international career.

McQuoid has not featured for Northern Ireland since coming off the bench in a European Championship qualifier in Estonia more than 14 months ago.

The 22-year-old was again overlooked when coach Michael O’Neill named a 24-man squad for tonight’s World Cup qualifier against Azerbaijan in Belfast.

McQuoid, who has been capped five times by his adopted country, has been in a rich vein form since Howe returned to the Dean Court hot-seat last month.

The frontman has bagged four goals in six starts under Howe and has played a pivotal role as Cherries’ fortunes have taken a dramatic turn for the better.

Southampton-born McQuoid, who qualifies for Northern Ireland through his grandfather, won his first cap in November 2010 during Howe’s first spell as Cherries manager.

Howe told the Daily Echo: “I know Michael O’Neill and we spoke regularly when I was at Burnley because we had a few lads involved in the international set up. I know Josh is still in his thoughts.

“It is up to Josh to keep doing the business. I am sure they will have representatives here to watch him and, hopefully, he can impress because I would imagine it is never a closed shop. Regardless of whether Josh plays up front or out wide, he just needs to perform well on a consistent basis and score more goals.”

Asked whether he felt dropping into League One had hampered McQuoid’s international chances, Howe replied: “There are no problems with him playing in League One. I do think it gets a little more difficult when you drop down a division and it is slightly more difficult to get the recognition. I think you probably have to work twice as hard and that is the challenge facing Josh.

“Knowing him, knowing his ability and what he can do, I certainly don’t think he should give up on his international career. He is still young and it is all there for him. But he has certainly got to work hard to get back in.

“I have got no doubt that he has got the appetite for it. He has performed well in the past month and I still think there is more to come from him. I would say though that because I know him very well as a player and, at his very best, I doubt there are few better than him in this division. He has got to prove that on a consistent basis.

“I am always pleased to see players called up because it is reward for their endeavours. I would certainly want Josh to do that because it would mean he was performing well for us.”