Aberdeen’s Niall McGinn says he’s hungry for more success on the international stage.
The attacker, along with Dons team-mate Matty Kennedy, is part of Northern Ireland’s squad for World Cup qualifiers against Italy on Thursday, Bulgaria next Wednesday and Sunday’s friendly with the USA.
McGinn has been a key player for Northern Ireland for a number of years.
The 33-year-old helped his country qualify for the European Championships in 2016 and scored in their memorable victory over Ukraine at the finals in France.
Since then Northern Ireland have lost to Switzerland in 2018 World Cup play-off and Slovakia in the play-off final for this summer’s Euros.
But McGinn is hopeful ahead of this latest qualifying campaign.
He said: “With the Euros qualifying groups you are always quietly confident.
“But with the World Cup it is always a bit more harder as you have the bigger teams.
“We have Italy, Switzerland, Bulgaria and Lithuania so it will be difficult.
“But we have to try to beat Bulgaria and Lithuania home and away.
“The big games always take care of themselves as you try to pick up as many points as possible away.
“Then in the home games you fancy your chances although it will be difficult.
“We had Switzlerland in the World Cup qualifiers before but lost out to a dubious goal which should not have been allowed.
“We lost the home game 1-0 and then drew 0-0 away from home. That saw us not qualify.
“We have been so close before. We are looking forward to the campaign.
“We have had the taste of the Euros and are hungry to get more success.”
Northern Ireland’s bid to make next year’s World Cup in Qatar starts against Group C top seeds Italy in Parma on Thursday.
Although it’s a tough game to open the campaign, McGinn feels fortunate to still be involved in international football.
The player, who has won 62 caps, added: “We have Italy away which is a big game as they are unbeaten in two years so it will be tough.
“I have never once thought about walking away from international football.
“Once Northern Ireland don’t want me will be the day I walk away. It is always really enjoyable to be part of.
“I have been part lucky in the sense that this season I haven’t been playing that much but I have used the international games to go away, keep my head down, work hard and hopefully play.
“Thankfully I did that as I got to play against Bosnia and scored an important goal to get us into the play-off final.
“Then I played in the play-off final although it was disappointing we did not get the job done.
“I was lucky that I was able to go away and enjoy international football.”