DERRY City’s Gerard Doherty admitted he was surprised to get a call from Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill.
The City goalkeeper is drafted into the squad who face Malta on Wednesday night, after Olympiacos keeper Roy Carroll pulled out.
“I’m delighted to be in the squad and it came out of the blue, to be honest,” stated Doherty.
“I suppose with our season not started yet I have been concentrating on getting fitter and sharper, but the call up happened and I can’t wait to meet up with the squad.”
For supporters of the Candystripes and League of Ireland in general, they feel that Doherty should have been in Northern Ireland squads long before now, but the 31-year-old doesn’t agree and is just over the moon to be in the squad now.
“I think it’s a wee bit different for a goalkeeper, as we all know with goalkeepers they don’t really start to mature until they get a wee bit older, so from that sense I just kept doing my job.
“To be honest I never really thought about it too much and I was never really bothered when it happened, as I said I’m just happy that he has now happened.”
The net-minder, who had spells with Derby County and Welsh side The New Saints, will link up with former Derry City team-mates Paddy McCourt, Niall McGinn and Danny Lafferty in the squad.
“I spoke to Danny on Saturday and he was making his way to London on Sunday, so it will be good to catch up with the boys, but I’m just looking forward to getting stuck into a few days hard training and then see what the craic is on Wednesday.”
Doherty, who represented the Republic of Ireland at youth level, is one of seven players who have played for Derry City and are involved in this week’s friendlies for both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
In the Northern Ireland squad trio Lafferty, McGinn and McCourt are alongside Doherty, while David Forde, Conor Sammon and James McClean are in Giovanni Trapattoni’s squad to face Poland and Doherty feels that is a credit to everyone connected to the club.
“I think it shows even at Derry City at the minute, that boys are coming here now with the thought at the back of their minds that they are going to be watched by people such as Michael O’Neill and other international managers and Premier League managers.
“Derry City are definitely a good platform at the minute, especially for young boys either signing or coming through the ranks.
“Michael (O’Neill) knows the league well enough having managed Shamrock Rovers, so he must have a bit of confidence in me to call me up.”
With the Airtricity League of Ireland season getting under way next month, Doherty is excited about his side’s chances this year.
“Pre-season has been great and everyone of the new signings have been top quality, they are all hard workers and I know a couple of them from before, the likes of Paddy Kavanagh and they are all decent guys.
“I didn’t see a lot of Tommy (Crawley) to be honest, but he has really surprised me in his first few weeks at training, he looks to have a bit of quality about him, so we have signed a good calibre of players this year and it’s exciting.
“Everyone at the club is knuckled down, there was a few people in over the close season getting a bit of strength work and that has definitely helped a few players; everything has been very, very professional and there’s a good buzz about the club at the minute and long may that continue.”