Shay McCartan is hoping his spell on international duty will propel him into the first team at Accrington Stanley.
The striker was away earlier this month with Northern Ireland Under 21s facing Scotland, where he started, and then a trip to Iceland, where he played his part.
After breaking his wrist in a freak training ground accident the day before the start of the League Two season, it was vital for the former Burnley man to get some minutes under his belt.
“We played Scotland and we got beat 2-1 but they are a good side,” said McCartan. “We then went to Iceland, who had just beaten France, and we drew 1-1 and probably could have won the game.
“While it’s good experience to go to places like Iceland, I didn’t see the sun once! It didn’t stop raining 24/7 so I was glad to come back.
“For me, having the chance to go on international duty was important to play some matches.
“Northern Ireland are like Accrington in a way in that not many people expect them to win and they punch above their weight and international duty is a bit different to League Two in that more football in played.
“But for me it was about getting minutes under my belt. I knew if I went there, got some game time and came back here and looked sharp in training I would get a chance and I did at Bristol Rovers.”
As the game got stretched at the Memorial Stadium where Stanley won 1-0, McCartan came on as sub and had two quick breakaways where he could have opened his account for the season.
“It was nosebleed territory for me to be honest,” said McCartan. “The keeper made a good save from my first chance and then I took a touch too far the second time.
“I think with more match experience I will take those chances – in three games time I am sure I would have scored at least once.”
With games coming thick and fast now with Crawley, Yeovil and Oxford all in a week, McCartan is hoping to play his part and make an impact.
“I just have to take my chance when I get it,” he added.