Callum O’Dowda has revealed that he is looking to James McClean for inspiration ahead of the Republic of Ireland’s crunch Qualifier against Austria.
The 22-year-old Bristol City midfielder made his international debut just over a year ago, but he is hoping to emulate the journey of the West Brom winger and become a regular fixture in Martin O’Neill’s side.
O’Dowda says the confidence he gained from making his first start in the recent defeat to Mexico has given him the motivation to make a similar impact as stand-in skipper McClean, if called upon at the Aviva Stadium on Sunday.
O’Dowda said: “Now a year into it, I have really settled in the camp. You look at when James McClean came onto the scene – he’s the kind of player I want to be like.
“When I get the ball, I want everyone to kind of get a bit up themselves.
“If it’s against Austria or if I come on and do something, that could transform into a start.”
The midfielder was first drafted into the senior national squad while playing in League Two with Oxford but, having coped with the step up, is now ready to stake a claim for a more prominent role.
He has found an unlikely mentor in McClean this campaign, who himself has developed into an integral part of the team, leaving off-field spats behind to add a new-found maturity to his game.
He said: “He has been really good to me, just little things in training. We’re big pals as well off the pitch, so that helps.
“He’s the kind of player….his running power, for example – I want to do stuff that he does. I like to implement what he does on the pitch as well.”
Twenty of O’Dowda’s 39 appearances came from the bench in the Championship last term, meaning it is a regular run of games he is searching for in order to improve his international prospects.
He said: “I think it’s consistency if I’m honest. It happens with a lot of players, it’s keeping the standard up and just being brutally honest.
“I’ve put a really high mark on myself of how well I want to do. I have had chats with Lee Johnson, my manager at Bristol City. I want to have a really good season there and hopefully, with the momentum of that, it will help me next year as well.”