Aberdeen wideman Matty Kennedy has made clinging onto his Pittodrie place his New Year resolution as he looks to set up an Italian job in March.
The 26-year-old earned his first cap for Northern Ireland in a November Nations’ League clash and he is now targeting his second when Ian Baraclough’s team kick-off their World Cup qualifiers away to Italy in March.
But the former St Johnstone ace knows he will have to keep impressing Aberdeen boss Derek McInnes if he is to have a shot at taking on the Azzurri.
He said: “Aberdeen is a massive club. If you are playing well and starting every week it gives you the opportunity to get another cap at international level.
“Northern Ireland’s first World Cup qualifier is against Italy in March. They are a massive team with a lot of top players.
“It would be a dream to play against them and some of the best players in the world. I would be buzzing if I got selected. It would probably be the biggest game of my career.”
Kennedy earned his Dons move 12 months ago on the back of his displays as a bustling striker for Saints.
But he has been forced to adapt to not only his new surroundings in the Granite City, but also a new position after being shifted to wing-back by McInnes.
He said: “I have been happy with my own form. It took me a while to get back into it after my injury, but I feel that I am getting better and better after every game. It is a new position for me, I am enjoying it.
“Playing wing-back is a lot different for me. Positionally-wise, the main thing is just trying to get yourself into the right position when you are defending.
“For the first few games I was a bit unsure about where to be on the park at certain times but the gaffer is coaching me about different scenarios and how to deal with them. I feel that I am getting better at it. The most important thing is that I am enjoying the role.”
The Dons found themselves at a loose end on Wednesday as their clash at Livingston was postponed because of the Lions’ frozen plastic pitch.
And Kennedy expects another frosty reception when they take on Dundee United at home on Saturday.
“I feel that we have been doing well recently,” he said. “We are just trying to keep on picking up the points.
“I missed the 0-0 game with United earlier in the season through injury, but I think it will be a similar game. They are compact as a team, they get behind the ball and all of the players know what they are doing.
“I expect Dundee United to be a strong and hard team to break down. They have got good players, two good strikers up at the top end of the pitch. They will be a dangerous team, but I hope we can go and do the job.
“The first game of the new year is important. We take each game as it comes and try to win each game.”