CLARETS skipper Chris McCann and winger Keith Treacy have been tipped for international stardom by boss Eddie Howe.
The Republic of Ireland made a giant step towards the UEFA European Football 2012 Championship finals following a comprehensive 4-0 victory in the first leg of their play-off showdown with Estonia in Tallinn.
Keith Andrews, Jonathan Walters and a Robbie Keane brace gave Giovanni Trapattoni’s men a commanding cushion going in to Tuesday evening’s decider at Dublin’s Aviva Stadium, meaning only a miracle would deny the Boys in Green their second ever appearance at the coveted tournament.
McCann, who has represented his country at under 17, under 18 and under 19 level, has yet to make his senior debut while Treacy has featured on six occasions. The 23-year-old made his bow against Argentina, replacing Kevin Fahey as a second half substitute in May.
Now Howe is challenging the pair to prove that they are good enough to join their international team-mates on the plane to Poland and Ukraine by doing the business on the field for the Clarets.
“That should be the aim of both players,” said Howe. “They are both very talented players and I think all players should aim as high as they possibly can. I’m sure both lads are very keen to get involved with the international setup. Keith’s already been included in squads so I’m sure he’ll firstly be looking to win his place back in our team and then kick on and try and get involved with his country. It’s the pinnacle of every players career I think to represent their country.
“Both lads can have an impact on that stage. They’re both big talents, good ages and at good stages in their careers so it’s up to them to produce consistent performances for us and I’m sure that Ireland will have their people round and about watching games and they’ll keep tabs on both players.”
Meanwhile defender David Edgar will be looking to make his mark on the international stage after landing in Toronto where his native Canada face St Kitts and Nevis at BMO Field on Tuesday night. Canada have already secured top spot in the second stage of their 2014 World Cup CONCACAF qualifiers for Brazil.
And young striker Alex MacDonald teamed up with Scotland Under 21s for their UEFA European Under-21 Championship qualifier against Group 10 leaders Netherlands. The Scots sat third in the table in their quest to feature in the 2013 finals in Israel going in to Monday evening’s fixture.
“David’s clocking up the air miles at the minute,” Howe said. “It’s been really good for him, it’s something he’s keen to be involved in. He’s had some good performances for us at the back of all that. He’ll be pleased with the time he’s getting on the pitch both internationally and with us. Alex has joined up with the Scotland Under 21 squad again and hopefully he’ll have a big part to play. He’s had a lack of football this year so we’re obviously eager for him to get as many games in as he can.”
Howe added: “From our point of view we’re pleased that only two have gone because of the numbers within our squad at the minute so we’ve been able to do some good sessions with decent numbers. It’s good to have that period of time with our players because we’re still working with them from this end. It’s good for the lads to go away but we’re obviously keen to keep them here so we can work with them.”