Newcastle United midfielder Isaac Hayden has eyes on a full England call up one day, writes Liam Kennedy.
But the youngster knows the only way to achieve that is by producing the goods for his club. Then, and only then, will country come calling.
Hayden is currently away on international duty with England Under-21s. Aidy Bothroyd’s men host Italy at Southampton’s St Mary’s Stadium this evening, as they ramp up their preparations for next year’s the Euro finals.
And Hayden is expected to play some part down on the south coast having met up with the squad at the start of the week.
This week a number of the England youths got the chance to train with Gareth Southgate’s full squad.
It is that kind of pathway to the senior ranks that Hayden, who has been one of the stand out signings of Rafa Benitez’s era at St James’ Park to date, gets at United, but was starved of at Arsenal.
But he knows the only way he will follow in the footsteps of the likes of Marcus Rashford and Eric Dier, who have stepped up in the last 12 months, is by doing the business for United in the Championship, week-in, week-out.
“There is a pathway to the full England set up,” said the 21-year-old.
“But for me the only way to get involved with England is to play well with your club.
“Everyone gets that drummed into them, nobody gets picked unless it is on merit, I have to focus on my job. Focus on the best I can be and when the manager gives me the chance to play I will and I have to keep going.”
Focussing on the job at hand is exactly what Hayden aims to do tonight as England look to extend their run of 14 games unbeaten, a sequence in which they have conceded just three goals.
“I am really looking forward to it,” he said.
“Anytime you get called up for England, no matter what age group it is, it is always a pleasure and an honour because there are a lot of players out there who could play for England.
“To get the chance to play is a massive for me.
“I took my chance in the last break when I played against Bosnia. Hopefully I will get a couple more this time.”
It was opportunities like this evening against the Azzurri, and last weekend against Cardiff, that Hayden craved when he was in the youth ranks at the Emirates.
He accepts that he was always going to have to leave Arsenal, in order to get the gametime his development needed.
And he is just delighted to have chosen the right club in Newcastle.
“It was always going to be necessary for me to leave Arsenal,” he admits.
“They have a lot of players, I wasn’t going to get a chance, so I had to go to a club and to get a chance to come to a club as big as this.
“But if you look at players my age you could probably think of two English lads Dele Alli and Eric Dier, maybe, who are my age playing regularly in the Premier League.
“Even in the Championship there aren’t that many my age. It is about getting as much experience as I can and build on that.”