FORMER Saints midfielder Ben Reeves is eager to make the most of his “incredible opportunity” with Northern Ireland as he links up once more with Steven Davis.
The 22-year-old, who qualifies via his maternal grandmother, was handed a first senior call-up for tonight’s friendly in Cyprus and is thrilled to be given a chance on the international stage.
The MK Dons player started his career at Saints’ renowned academy, where he was a year above England and Arsenal star Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, but dropped down to League One when he was released by Saints last summer.
Reeves has scored 10 times this season from midfield and caught the eye of Northern Ireland boss Michael O’Neill in the process.
“My nan is from Fermanagh and a lot of my mum’s side still live over there, so I always knew it was a chance for me to play for Northern Ireland,” he said.
“I was ecstatic when I got the call, so was my family and everyone at home too.
“It would be unbelievable to play international football; it’s an incredible opportunity and it would be an honour to represent Northern Ireland.”
Ironically, Reeves’ new international captain, Davis, is one of the men who forced him out of St Mary’s when he was signed to bolster the club’s Premier League credentials in 2012.
Reeves holds no grudges on that front, though, and is hoping his week away with the likes of Davis can help him become a better player.
“I trained with ‘Davo’ a lot at Southampton and it’s good to know someone when you’re coming into a squad and meeting a lot of new people,” he said.
“He’s an easy guy to get on with, everyone likes Steven.”
With 63 caps, Davis is one of Ireland’s most experienced campaigners.
He has been a regular in the side since making his debut as a 20-year-old in 2005.
Davis starred in memorable World Cup qualifying wins against England and Spain later that year.
Victories have been harder to come by in recent times, though, with Ireland winning just two of his last 22 appearances.