CHERRIES star Eunan O’Kane knows his chances of winning international honours will depend on maintaining his impressive club form and said he had not expected a first call-up.
The gifted midfielder was speaking yesterday after new Republic of Ireland manager Martin O’Neill announced his first squad for a friendly against Serbia in Dublin next month.
Although O’Kane had been on stand-by for friendlies against Latvia and Poland in November – when the squads were picked by under-21 coach Noel King – he was not included in O’Neill’s 29-strong party.
O’Kane, capped by the Republic at under-21 level, has turned in a series of eye-catching displays this season, including against Liverpool in the FA Cup when O’Neill’s assistant Roy Keane watched him first-hand.
The playmaker told the Daily Echo: “If you go through the squad, I think most of the players are in the Premier League and there are very few in the Championship.
“I know a few people had been talking about it but, from a personal point of view, I wasn’t expecting it.
"It is definitely something I want to achieve at some stage in my career and, hopefully, it is sooner rather than later.
"All I can do is keep my head down and keep trying to play well. Hopefully, at some point, someone will take notice.
“When I first spoke about this at the start of the season, I said I needed at least six months to a year of continuously good performances in the Championship to even be considered for the squad.
“First and foremost, it is important for me to stay in the team and then play well to keep my place.
"If I can do that then, hopefully, at some point in the near future, I will get that opportunity. My main aim is to keep doing well for Bournemouth.”
Born near Derry and capped by Northern Ireland at every level between under-16 and under-21, O’Kane switched allegiance to the Republic for footballing reasons in October 2011.
The former Everton scholar joined Torquay from Coleraine in January 2010 before moving from Plainmoor to Dean Court for £175,000 in July 2012.
O’Kane, whose stock has risen sharply under Eddie Howe’s tutelage, added: “If anybody had said nine months ago that I would even have a chance of a call up, I probably would have laughed at them.”
O’Kane remains a doubt for tomorrow’s trip to Derby after taking a kick to his pelvis during Cherries’ 1-1 draw with Burnley.