'I was supposed to be with the Under 21s' - Leeds United youngster's delight at senior international switch
Leeds United midfielder Alfie McCalmont has set his sights on more senior caps after finally making his full international debut for Northern Ireland.
Although still only 21, the Thirsk-born youngster won his first cap at Windsor Park in Belfast two years ago as a second half substitute against Luxembourg.
McCalmont, out on loan with League One Morecambe this season, benefitted from a raft of pull outs from the senior squad for this international break.
Manager Ian Baraclough was without the likes of Jonny Evans, Corry Evans, George Saville, Josh Magennis and Liam Boyce. Leeds midfielder Stuart Dallas also stayed at home due to personal reasons.
Baraclough turned to McCalmont but not just to make up the numbers, bringing him on to help see out the World Cup Qualifying win over Lithuania and handing him a first senior international start in the friendly against Estonia.
"I was supposed to be with the Under 21s but the gaffer came to my game last Saturday against Sheffield Wednesday and then I got a text saying I'd be going with him, so I was absolutely delighted," said McCalmont, who spent last season on loan with Oldham Athletic.
"It's a good set of lads, I've been with them before and with my first start they've helped me a lot and I felt at home. The gaffer told me [the day before the game] in training and I was delighted. I've been with the seniors, on the bench, three times. Just been dying to get my first start and show what I can do, enjoy the occasion, go out and play my normal game."
Baraclough was delighted with McCalmont's performance, calling him a 'little terrier' and praising the way he kept it simple in the middle of the park during a 1-0 victory that maintained the feel-good factor for Northern Ireland ahead of Wednesday night's crunch qualifier against Switzerland.
McCalmont was delighted too and hopes it will be the first of many full caps for the country where his father was born.
"I loved it," said McCalmont.
"A good win, even though it's a friendly. We just want to keep that winning momentum and hopefully take it into the game against Switzerland.
"I just want to keep playing, keep getting called up. I can still play for the 21s but my aim is to play for the seniors, so I've got to keep putting in good performances when I'm called upon. I felt I did that so hopefully I can carry that on when I'm called up again."