Former Derry City defender Daniel Lafferty is hoping to force his way back into the Northern Ireland squad.
The left-back who only a few weeks ago made his Premier League debut in Burnley’s win over Southampton, is now looking to force his way back into Michael O’Neill’s plans.
And Lafferty agrees with the Northern Ireland gaffer that nine points from their remaining five European Qualifiers games could possibly see them reach their first major football tournament since Mexico 1986.
I think Michael said 18 points would see us qualifying and I agree with him, it probably would get you there,” he stated.
“I don’t think anyone really gave us a chance to start so well during the qualifiers, but we all felt as a squad that things were kind of building for some time.
“We had so many near wins and we also started to eradicate some of the silly results and I think now the squad is a lot more kind of knowledgeable of how to manage a game and things like that.
“Michael has got his point across to the lads and they have played out his tactics and stuff. The things he has asked them to do in all the games whether it be home or away, but especially away.
“I think most teams will probably be fearing us and while yes there are a lot of winnable points on offer, we still have a long way to go in terms of qualifying.
“However in saying that I think the belief and confidence has grown in the squad, that we are a country that can challenge to qualify for a major European tournament and I would love to be back involved and being part of that push.”
Unfortunately for the 25-year-old he has missed out in the recent success but he’s eager to force his way back into the squad.
“I absolutely want to get back into Michael’s plans, I know we don’t have a game now for a few months but I do hope that I can get back into the squad,” he added.
“It has been disappointing not to be involved because we have been absolutely flying and we have got off to an unbelievable start and it’s not a great time not to be involved but there has been reasons why I haven’t been involved up to now, because I haven’t been involved at club level, so hopefully now that will all change and if I do get some game time at Burnley then I’ll hopefully get myself back into the international set-up and be a part of this push for European qualification.”
Domestically Institute will be looking to ensure they stay in the Danske Bank Premiership.
They will have so many good memories in 2014, but boss Paul Kee will be looking for his players to re-create even more happier moments in 2015.
In an ideal world the Waterside men would have continued their early season form, but like Southampton in the Premier League, their form has dipped and so too has their league position.
Although they have been in a poor recent run, their performances (apart from their game at Cliftonville) have been alright and because of that Kee will be hoping those displays can turn into more positives results.
Unfortunately the departure of striker Stephen O’Flynn to Crusaders will be a massive blow, but as they always say ‘no one player is bigger than the club’ and Kee will be hoping that’s the case.
As for their neighbours Limavady United they under Neil Mullan’s stewardship are slowly finding their feet in Championship Two.
They current sit seven points behind leaders Lurgan Celtic, but like so many clubs up and down the country they are struggling to keep their head above the financial waters.
Another side who are performing well are Intermediate side Newtowne, who reached the Irish Cup fifth round for the first time in their history, facing Armagh City next month in the competition.
Unfortunately both Newbuildings United and Oxford United failed to reach the ‘big boys’ this year, but there is always next year.
At North West Junior level a youthful Drummond United side is the team everyone have to catch in the Premier Division, while in the First Division, Lisahally remain the only side in all three divisions still unbeaten in the league.
The Second Division looks to be a whole lot tighter affair with Draperstown Celtic and Douglas Bridge battling it out at the top.
While bringing the Irish Junior Cup back to the North West for the first time in many of years is still on the cards next year as there are still a few sides remaining in the competition.