Having recently made his debut for Jamaica, Aberdeen full-back Greg Leigh is desperate to star in the 2022 World Cup.
The 26-year-old has also targeted a slot in the CONCACAF Gold Cup finals next summer, just a month after the Qatar 2022 qualifiers.
Yet, with his short-term Dons contract set to expire in January and money tight due to the pandemic, Leigh remains unsure if he will still be with Aberdeen when those games come around.
Defender Leigh earned a debut cap when starting in a 3-0 friendly defeat to Saudi Arabia in Riyadh on November 14.
Three days later, he started in a 2-1 win over the Saudis.
World Cup hopeful Leigh, of Aberdeen, said: “International football is a different experience and you have to be on your game. Hopefully I did enough to stay in the squad now. We have World Cup qualifiers in June and then straight into the Gold Cup in July.
“In the World Cup group we have Costa Rica, Mexico and the USA. There is another trip in March to Catalonia, so hopefully I can play well enough to stay in the plans.
“It would mean playing all through next summer, but that’s something you consider when you want to play international football.
“The prospect of playing in a World Cup is above everything else, it would be a massive thing.
“I want to commit to it and do everything I can to help us get there.”
Former Manchester City trainee Leigh insists the process of being selected for Jamaica has been ongoing for a year, but was delayed by the Covid-19 crisis.
He said: “Playing for Jamaica is something I’d thought about a lot and I made contact with the FA over there before my injury.
“I asked them if they’d be interested, they said yes and obviously gave me the call up. I was in the process of getting my passport all the way from January. It was a while happening because of everything that’s going on and the whole thing has been on the go for about a year.
“My family are very proud of it and that was one of the reasons I wanted to do it.
“My uncle Warren Blake (president of the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association) is quite well known in Jamaica because he’s involved in the athletic set-up.
“He’s an orthopedic surgeon who has worked with Usain Bolt, so he and my cousins were excited to see me in the set-up.”
Jamaica have been drawn in Group C of the CONCACAF Gold Cup alongside Costa Rica, Suriname and an as-yet-unconfirmed team that will qualify via a preliminary match.
The Gold Cup runs from July 10 to August 1. Should Leigh be selected by Jamaica for the tournament, he would be unavailable for club football that month – around the time Aberdeen could have European qualifying ties.
There are a number of imponderables, not least Leigh’s future. He signed on a short-term deal until January following his exit from NAC Breda.
He said: “My contract is up in January so we will hopefully speak about that.
“With everything going on, no fans allowed in, the best option was a short-term contract.
“For me it was about getting over my injury, getting fit again and back to playing games.
“Something will have to happen in the next two months, whether that’s me staying or going we’ll see.”
Leigh made his first competitive start in almost a year when playing in midfield in the 4-0 loss to league leaders Rangers.
His last start came in a 1-0 defeat of Hamilton on December 14 when he suffered a fractured tibia while on loan at Aberdeen from Dutch side NAC Breda.
That injury, and the pandemic, wiped out 11 months.
Leigh operated in a central midfield role at Ibrox because the squad was weakened with eight players unavailable. None will be back for tonight at Hamilton.
Where does central midfielder Funso Ojo, who played alongside Leigh at Ibrox, fit into the Aberdeen squad? We discussed the Belgian on this week’s Northern Goal podcast:
He said: “Sunday was difficult. Rangers are a decent side and the way they move the ball is the best in the league at the moment.
“We had players missing so we had to just ride it out.
“We are just glad to get a game again so quickly, Hamilton will make it a battle, so we have to deal with that.”