Stephen O’Donnell is hoping he can fend off on-fire James Forrest and hang on to his Scotland jersey.
The Kilmarnock defender will be on cloud nine as he flies to Israel today and has been pinching himself ever since he pulled on the dark blue of his country.
O’Donnell is relishing tomorrow night’s Nations League match in Haifa but will have to fight off the threat from his Scots teammate first.
His inclusion on the right side in place of the more attack-minded Celtic star for the opening tie against Albania at Hampden raised more than a few eyebrows.
The modest 26-year-old right-back even admitted that he was shocked to hear his own name be read out by manager Alex McLeish.
O’Donnell played well, though, and may just hang on to the jersey despite Forrest’s four-goal rampage against St Johnstone at McDiarmid Park on Sunday.
He said: “I’m looking forward to it.
“The last away trip I had was to Peru and Mexico in pre-season and I loved those two weeks.
“This will be different because it’s a competitive game.
“Hopefully if I get another chance I can do myself justice.
“I guess I am increasing the air miles!
“I’ve not got my loyalty card yet but I’ll need to get one of those, maybe take the missus away at Christmas if I can get some more.
“Seriously, though, I am still proud and delighted to be here.”
O’Donnell sat at home watching Forrest put Saints to the sword but he doesn’t see himself as a direct rival to the Parkhead player.
He joked: “We don’t know the team yet but there’s not much competition because Jamesy only scored the four goals at the weekend!
“The day before, I had a poor game against Dundee.
“It will depend on the shape and formation, whether or not I play. I would be delighted if I did.
“I watched the game and James was brilliant.
“We all have strengths and weaknesses, though. I’m not going to kid myself on that I’m better going forward than James. I’m a bit more defensive and provide a bit more height.
“If it was a shoot-off between us – whoever the manager picked – I know I’d be delighted for James if he was playing.
“He is a great guy and someone I’ve huge amounts of respect for.
“I played with him for Celtic under-19s.
“He was outstanding from a young age and I’m just delighted to see him doing well every week.
“He goes under the radar a bit with the fans but he’s certainly someone I massively respect as a player and a person.”