CHERRIES star Harry Arter believes his electric start to the campaign has given him his “best chance” yet of winning a first competitive cap for the Republic of Ireland.

The midfielder admits he does not feel “completely involved” in the Irish set-up, given his three international appearances so far have all come in friendlies.

But Arter hopes he has done enough to persuade Martin O’Neill to select him for Saturday’s World Cup qualifier against Austria in Vienna.

Arter told the Daily Echo: “It’s something I’m looking forward to. I haven’t played a competitive game yet. That’s my next target with Ireland, to get a start. I feel I’ve put myself in a good position to do that now.

“I think I probably have the best chance since I’ve been involved with the set-up to be given an opportunity – so hopefully I will be.

“I feel part of the team, but there’s a sense of not feeling completely involved. I haven’t played enough for me to feel I’m a massive asset to the squad yet. I feel I need to play a few games to be valued a bit more.”

The Irish share top spot in Group D with Serbia following the opening three games in qualification.

With seven matches still to contest, Arter is reluctant to consider the prospect of playing in the finals in Russia in 2018.

But that is not to say he does not harbour ambitions of performing on such a big stage – especially after a thigh problem prevented him from going to this year’s European Championship.

“That probably is a bit too far ahead for me to think about at the moment,” said Arter. “Of course, if I think about it now, it would be something I dream about doing.

“The Euros, at the time, I didn’t see happening, because it just seemed too good to be true to be going to that. Ultimately, I didn’t go because of injury and it was something I was really disappointed to miss out on.

“A few years ago if someone had said there would be a chance of me playing in the World Cup, I wouldn’t have seen it.

"It seems unreal to even be talking about the World Cup, but it’s quite far away and I have a lot of challenges ahead of me before it happens.”

With animated Ireland boss O’Neill assisted by the singular Roy Keane, Arter admits the Irish camp has little in common with his daily workplace.

“International football will always be different, no matter who the manager is,” said the 26-year-old. “It’s very hard to get that day-to-day environment with international teams, when you’re only there for a week at a time.

“They (O’Neill and Keane) are different to Eddie Howe. I wouldn’t say they have different beliefs. They have different ways of preparing for games, which is to be expected. Growing up, Roy Keane was someone I looked up to and it’s good for me to learn from two different people I have a lot of respect for.”