Watford midfielder Sean Murray admits it's difficult to break into the Republic of Ireland's senior squad but says he is encouraged that Martin O'Neill has been keeping a close eye on his progress.
Murray, who joined the Hornets academy aged nine, was named his country's Under-21 Player of the Year on Sunday and has impressed during his eight caps for the youth side, which included a debut goal against Italy in September 2012.
The 20-year-old is competing with the likes of Everton's James McCarthy, Stoke City's Glenn Whelan and Norwich City's Wes Hoolahan for a place in the senior set-up but Murray remains patient.
“There are some really top players in that full squad, so I don’t mind playing with the Under-21’s," Murray told the Irish Times.
"At least Martin O’Neill has been to see me at club level. That’s all I can ask for really.”
The Under-21s play their penultimate UEFA Championship qualifying round match against Montenegro at 3pm this afternoon (Wednesday).
The two teams go into the game level on eight points behind Germany in Group Six but Montenegro have a game in hand over the Irish.
“Only a win will do against Montenegro if we’re to go to Germany in September for our last game with any chance of finishing second and securing a play-off,” Murray said.
“I just want to keep playing and hopefully, if we get through this group, it will be a longer campaign into the play-offs later in the year."
Watford's Tommie Hoban and Connor Smith are also included in the squad.