Robbie Brady is in a rush to make up for lost time as he eyes his first Irish involvement in 18 months in Scotland on Saturday.
Injuries and his expectation of the right challenge at club level prevented the 30-year-old from pursuing an international career which culminated at Euro 2016 with his goals against Italy and France.
Although he only played a sporadic role in Bournemouth’s promotion-winning season, coming in just seven times, consistency has been his friend in his latest venture at Preston North End.
Ryan Lowe started his new signing in each of their first nine games, making the left-back role his own.
Replicating that progress at international level is his next goal, resuming his presence in a green shirt he last wore against Qatar in March 2021. An Achilles injury suffered in that friendly halted his cap tally at 57.
“It’s been too long,” he admitted. “It’s been great to be back.
“It’s hard when you’re out and missing trips is hard to bear, but my body wasn’t coping on its own. I managed to get a lot of work in the offseason.
“I’m only 30, but there’s no time to waste. There aren’t many tournaments left, so you want to grab it with both hands and try to push for them.
“My performances will have to be at a level that keeps me involved and I’m confident enough that I can get to a level to stay in the game. We’ll see how things go, but these tournaments are what it’s all about and what you want to strive for.
“We have a big week ahead of us now, there are so many factors that will play into getting us to the Euros and as you said, the World Cup afterwards.”
Brady is relieved to be free from career-delaying injuries, happy also that Stephen Kenny has retained faith in his abilities. The Dubliner looks likely to feature above the final double-header of the UEFA Nations League campaign which ends next Tuesday at home to Armenia.
“The last six to 12 months he (Kenny) left it to me,” explained the former Manchester United player.
“I told him what I needed and he told me what he needed. That kind of speaks for itself. I didn’t play enough football to put myself in the running and I knew that myself- same.
“He’s been great to me since he arrived, keeping in touch and keeping his thoughts on me and where he thinks I can go.
“I couldn’t put myself in a position to give him what he needed. I’m back fit and healthy and in a good place now to make an impact.”
“It’s hard to just be a fan and want the guys to be successful, I think they’ve been great in games but it’s hard to watch when you’re not involved. But I did well and I managed to get back involved.”