ROOKIE Irish striker Cillian Sheridan was the man handed the tough task of filling in for the injured Kevin Doyle in Dublin last night, and the Bulgaria-bound player hopes he's done enough to earn a place in the squad -- and further caps -- "on merit".
Ireland's striking options were already limited due to injuries to Shane Long and Caleb Folan, so the withdrawal of Doyle from the Ireland camp just hours before kick-off -- Doyle had been named in the starting line-up but was unable to recover from a calf injury -- left Ireland's stand-in boss Marco Tardelli with few options.
Two of the thee strikers on the bench had played for the Irish U21s just 24 hours earlier and, while Anthony Stokes stole the show for the U21 side in their 5-0 rout of Estonia, Sheridan was the man handed the leading role as Robbie Keane's striker partner.
It turned out to be a difficult night for Sheridan, making his first start for the Irish senior team, as he got little freedom from the top-class Argentina defence, a stern backline containing players from Bayern Munich, Inter Milan, Marseille and Real Madrid.
"Argentina were world class, it was a bit of an eye-opener to be honest, the way they passed the ball around, they found gaps there all the time," Sheridan said. "They were the best side I have ever played against. I think some of us were in awe of how they played, they just kept the ball for fun at times.
"I think we made more of a game of it in the second half but overall they were the better side. But we can only get better from playing against top teams like this and learning from them," he added, hoping that his display -- and his imminent move to Europa League hopefuls CSKA Sofia can keep him in the thoughts of Ireland boss Giovanni Trapattoni ahead of other applicants such as Long, Folan, Leon Best and Stokes.
"I know that I got a chance in the team because Kevin Doyle was injured," said Sheridan. "But, hopefully, when I get an opportunity again it will be on merit, not because someone is injured."
Meanwhile, Sheridan will seal his move from Celtic to CSKA Sofia before the weekend. Celtic have agreed a fee -- reportedly €400,000 for the Cavan man -- and he has agreed terms, so all that's left is to put pen to paper once he passes a medical.