Shane Long could be set for a belated first start under Republic of Ireland manager Mick McCarthy in next month's Euro 2020 playoff with Slovakia.
The Southampton striker hasn't played for his country since the 1-0 defeat at home to Wales in the UEFA Nations League in October of 2018.
But Long has only missed two of the Saints' thirteen Premier League games since November, and scored in their 3-2 FA Cup 4th round replay defeat to Tottenham.
McCarthy had made a regular point of saying Long needed first-team football under his belt before he could add to his 82 caps, but with seven weeks to go until the trip to Bratislava the Ireland boss is delighted with the Tipperary native's return to form.
In his regular 'scouting report', McCarthy said, "He’s been very unlucky with the timing of some of his injuries in the past year. Shane had to withdraw from my first squad with an injury and then missed out again in the summer after reporting in to camp in Dublin.
"I’ve kept in touch with him and kept him in the picture regarding his need for first team football. He’s back in regular action now with Southampton and his goal at Spurs on Wednesday night was a real poacher’s goal, he was in the right place at the right time.
"Shane is playing again and scoring again and that means he is pushing all the right buttons ahead of Slovakia."
McCarthy also shrugged off fears Shane Duffy could miss the Euro 2020 playoff.
The Brighton defender is facing a couple of weeks out of action after having a blood clot removed from his leg last month.
Having lined out for his country despite fitness worries at club level earlier in the campaign, McCarthy's sure Duffy will be good for that plane to Slovakia, "I have spoken to Shane and he tells me he will be fine – trust me, if Shane says he will be okay then he will be okay as he has proven to me already in this campaign.
"It was a minor operation and Shane has told me it was better to get it done now and out of the way before we start to work on our preparation for the Slovakia game. That’s good enough for me."