PRESTON manager Darren Ferguson believes that Dublin-born winger Keith Treacy has improved his game since his elevation to the senior Ireland squad earlier this month.
Treacy, who made his senior debut against Argentina, was Preston's hero this week as his goal knocked Bradford City out of the Carling Cup and sent Preston into the next round and Ferguson reckons that international recognition, as well as regular first-team football, is bringing out the best in Treacy.
"Getting that first Irish cap was a big thing for Keith, it's given him some more confidence," said Ferguson.
"The lad has a lot of ability and is now a full international with the Republic of Ireland, people tend to forget that. He's got a bit of a lazy style, maybe that's the wrong word, but he's got a bit of Chris Waddle about him.
"Since we signed Keith, I've seen an improvement both physically and mentally in him which I'm pleased about.
"We knew he would get his fitness with a good pre-season and mentally there's a difference too.
"Playing regularly is helping him as he didn't play much at Blackburn," added Ferguson, delighted with the winger's display against the Blades in midweek.
"Keith is always capable of scoring goals like that. He is a lot fitter this season, I think that is the key.
"A lot of people looked at him and didn't take him. I always look at the good things players can do and then try and improve the things they're not so good at. He must have had six or seven shots during the game. He hit the bar twice, and can hit them with both feet."
Treacy said that the goal was a career highlight. "It was probably the best goal I have scored in my career so far," he claimed.
"I had a few chances, the keeper made a good save at the back post and made a couple of saves off me and I also hit the crossbar. It was nice to get the win.
"Now we start thinking about Sheffield United on Saturday, it's always tough going to Bramall Lane. I spent six months there on loan and I was happy there but I will be trying to put one over on them," added Treacy, who will link up with the Ireland squad on Monday to prepare for the Euro 2012 qualifiers against Armenia and Andorra.