JAMES McCARTHY says he can't take his place in the Ireland starting XI for granted even though he seems to have finally won the trust of manager Giovanni Trapattoni.
The Wigan man started his sixth consecutive international in Wednesday's 1-0 defeat to Greece and McCarthy, who was banished to the Ireland U21 squad by Trapattoni only 12 months ago, seems to have worked his way to the top of the queue.
But the 22-year-old says he won't rest on his laurels and admits that he has some battles ahead.
"It has been good for me and for my confidence to get a run of games in the Irish side but I'm not taking anything for granted, I know that Glenn Whelan and Keith Andrews are still there, Wes Hoolahan has come in and done well, so you have to be on your toes and do well when you get the chance," McCarthy told the Herald.
"I hope I have done enough to stay in the team but I won't let myself get carried away at all.
"I think there's a good core in the squad now, I came in through the U21s with lads like David Meyler and Seamus Coleman and now we have even younger boys like Robbie Brady involved and even though we lost to Greece this week, I think the mood is good.
"It was frustrating to lose to Greece but we created enough chances to win the game and didn't put them away.
"Greece are a very good side, they kept the ball well and knocked it about, they are high up in the FIFA rankings and they are there for a reason.
"It was disappointing to end the season with a defeat but to me, the future is bright for the Irish team," added McCarthy, who returns to club action tomorrow in a clash with Liverpool.
"It's always a hard game against Liverpool and I think as players we raise ourselves, I know I do, hopefully we can get a result there," added McCarthy.