Danny Rogers has played his last game for Ireland’s under-21 side.
The Bairns stopper had been included to make his final appearance and 10th cap last week, before Martin O’Neill promoted him to the senior Irish side for World Cup qualifiers with Georgia and Moldova next weekend.
The 22-year-old had been watched by O’Neill and assistant Roy Keane throughout his under-21 career, and now the pressure he felt under their watchful gaze will intensify as he is scrutinised in training with the full international side.
“I’ve played every game apart from one in the qualifiers so I’ve amassed a decent amount of caps.
“Martin O’Neill was in the dressing room after the last 21s game although he doesn’t speak much to me since I’m a goalie! Him and Roy Keane are always there so it puts a bit of pressure on you.
“The crowds aren’t that big at under-21 games, maybe a few thousand. When O’Neill and Keane are there, it’s like playing in front of 50,000. It’s a two and a half hour trip to watch our game, so it’s obviously good of them to come down and have a look. The first team are based in Dublin and the 21s are in Waterford. They’re obviously keen to bring in some boys.”
Little did Rogers realise, speaking in the wake of his provisional 21s call, that he was one of the players in their sights.
“Sometimes you can be away five years after the 21s before you make the senior team – hopefully it’s quicker than that.
“If I keep progressing I’m sure I can be there or there abouts,” Rogers added.
“You might need an injury or something to happen, but I want to be ready and be the next name they pick and that just means playing well and having another season like last season.”
“I think he improved last season by playing in big games, he has to maintain that and get even better because he has to be even better to get into the Aberdeen team, never mind the Irish national side.
“He has worked hard, he has to tidy up a few areas we’ve discussed but he’s a good goalkeeper and that’s why I tried so hard to get him back here.
“For him to be called up at such a young age is great credit to him.”
His full call-up to the Republic of Ireland squad is testament to his desire to play regular football – especially after being told he would not be Derek McInnes’s first choice at Pittodrie.
“Danny is sensible in that he had a year at Dumbarton and this is his second season here - rather than sit on the bench or play in the reserves, he has put himself into pressure situations, and that’s what young players need to find and can they handle it - clearly he can. He had a superb season last term, and he has to improve even further to become Derek McInnes’s number one goalkeeper next season and we’ve spoken about that.
“A good season here could help him along and maybe challenge it,” added the Bairns boss.
“It’s all come for him from playing at Falkirk and playing really well for us. He should soak it all in. The experience he’ll get will be incredible even seeing how the likes of Keiron Westwood and Darren Randolph go about their training, plus watching and listening to Roy Keane and Martin O’Neill in training and team talks.
“He’s got to make sure he soaks it up, enjoys it and doesn’t fear it. Even if he doesn’t get stripped for the games, he should feel proud he has got that opportunity and make him want to work even harder to be a permanent in that and that will only happen with good games for Falkirk and then with Aberdeen.”
Houston added: “ Deniz will get that opportunity with Danny out. He is still bothered by his dead leg a little but he’s back on the bench on Saturday and will be fine by the time that game comes around.”