James McCarthy has revealed his burning desire to experience a major international tournament with the Republic of Ireland.
The Everton FC midfielder played for his country in the opening game of their Euro 2016 qualifying campaign against Georgia last night.
Ireland started the match with three Everton players – McCarthy, Seamus Coleman and Aiden McGeady – with Darron Gibson on the bench.
McCarthy laid on the assist for McGeady to open the scoring in Tbilisi before the hosts pegged Ireland back before half-time.
Ireland pressed for a second goal after the break but looked to be heading for a frustrating draw.
But in the final minute Blues attacker McGeady scored for a second time to hand Ireland a 2-1 win.
McCarthy, who missed their Euro 2012 campaign for family reasons, knows that it will be tough to qualify from Group D which includes world champions Germany, Poland and Scotland.
But the Blues midfielder is confident in their chances and says new management team Martin O’Neill and Roy Keane have created a “buzz” in the camp.
“It would be a huge achievement to qualify,” McCarthy said.
“The new gaffer (Martin O’Neill) has come in and brought Roy Keane as assistant and there is a real buzz about Ireland.
“The whole country is looking forward to this. Hopefully we can push on and do well.”
Ireland welcome Gibraltar to the Aviva Stadium in early October before facing a trip to Germany.
McCarthy knows it will be tough against the best side in the world but says the Republic are full of confidence.
McCarthy added: “It’s going to be tough with Germany in the group. But, to be honest, anything can happen.
“We play them home and away and, while it will be tough going there, they have to come to us too.
“We have a new manager and he will ensure we go into that game giving it our best shot.
“You never know what can happen at the Aviva Stadium with our fans buzzing.
“It is one we are looking forward to because they are very strong and hopefully we can cause an upset. We will have to go to Scotland too – and they will have a real atmosphere there – and Gibraltar is a step into the unknown.
“We can’t wait.”