Newcastle United goalkeeper Rob Elliot says he can’t afford to look too far forward – despite fighting for a place in Republic of Ireland’s Euro 2016 squad.
The shot-stopper linked up with the Republic side for their friendly double-header with Switzerland tonight and Slovakia next week.
Ireland qualified for the Euros this summer and Elliot is competing with the likes of Shay Given, Darren Randolph and David Forde for a place in the squad.
And he believes his form for Newcastle in helping them beat the drop will go a long way to securing his place in Ireland manager Martin O’Neill’s plans.
“If I play well for Newcastle then I get opportunities for Ireland so there’s no real balancing act to contend with,” Elliot said. “If anything it gives me that extra incentive to perform for Newcastle.
“My main priority at the moment is to be doing as much as I can to help us stay in the Premier League.
“I love playing here and I couldn’t imagine a club like this not being in the top-flight so we need to make sure all of our effort and concentration goes into surviving.
“It’s still a huge honour to play for Ireland. I go away and enjoy myself with the Irish boys and gain more experience which I look to take into my performances at Newcastle.
“The Euros are massive (for Ireland) and for the fans. We’re going there as underdogs which suits us because it means we can go there and play without pressure and hopefully do the country proud.”
Newcastle have eight games left to save their skin, with the Magpies second-bottom of the Premier League and staring relegation in the face.
It all adds up to the biggest test of the 28-year-old’s career.
He told the club’s official website “With (Euro 2016) and the league to contend with, the next few months is probably one of the most important of my career.
“I just need make sure I’m as focused and prepared as possible to make sure the season ends on a high and doesn’t end up going to waste.”