MIDFIELDER Kane Ferdinand can't wait to play his first game at home for Ireland next week - almost three years after he hooked up with the Irish set-up for the first time.
The Peterborough United man, who is a second cousin of Manchester United star Rio, is one of the slow-burning but impressive young Irish talents across the water.
He started the current season in the bottom league of the English scene, with Southend United, but at the end of the last transfer window Peterborough boss Darren Ferguson moved to bring the midfielder up to the Championship, for a reported fee of £200,000.
Ferdinand, 20, has since tried to establish himself in the Posh side and next week he will try to move things up a notch with the national team, as he's included in Noel King's Irish U21 squad for a friendly against Holland in Tallaght Stadium, a chance for Ferdinand to play on 'home' soil at last.
"It's funny that I made my debut for the Ireland youths team back in 2010, we played in Macedonia, but I've never had a chance to play a game in Ireland before, for whatever reason," he told the Herald.
"I have won a few caps since then and it was a big honour to go to Romania with the U19s for the European Championship finals two years ago, so the opportunity to play in Dublin is a big deal for me, and I just hope I can do well. We'll see how the game goes but I am looking forward to it," added Ferdinand, who qualifies via the grandparent rule as his dad's dad was from Dublin.
"It's nice that the Holland game will be in Dublin.
"The Irish connection is with Dublin and I'm sure some of the cousins will make an appearance next week.
"It's nice to get back involved with Ireland again.
"I was there in Romania when the U19s got to the semi-finals of the Euros two years ago but that was my last time to be involved with the team.
"A lot of the players from that U19 squad, like Joe Shaughnessy and Sean McDermott, are in the U21s now so it will be good to see some familiar faces."
Ferdinand began his career with London side Leyton Orient but found success with a move to Southend, making his first-team debut when he was only 18. He scored an impressive 10 goals in 60 league appearances for Southend before Ferguson swooped.
"It was a big step-up in standard, going from League Two to the Championship, but I think I have done well, and it will improve me as a player to play in bigger stadiums against better players," added the midfielder, who has played in front of a crowd of over 22,000 in his last appearance for the Posh, a league defeat away to Nottingham Forest.
"I have really enjoyed it here at Peterborough and the club are delighted to see me get the call-up.
We don't have too many Posh players away on international duty. A few of the boys said they didn't even know I was Irish until I got the call for the Ireland U21s, so maybe I can make people sit up and take notice now," added the Peterborough player, who has distant family ties with Premier League regulars Rio and Anton.
"Yeah, Rio and Anton are, I think, second cousins or something along those lines but there's never been much contact, we're just getting on with our careers."
For the midfielder, the priority for the season is keeping Peterborough in the Championship, a tough task as they're currently in the relegation zone.
"We know that on our day we can beat almost any team in the division. If we can string a few wins together we can get out of trouble," he added.