Liam Donnelly is still on course to become a Northern Ireland record-breaker after being called-up to captain the Under-21s in their crucial upcoming European qualifiers.
The Pools defender has won 18 Under-21 caps for his country and is closing in on the record held by former Liverpool and Ipswich Town youngster Sean Friars, who earned 21 caps between 1998 and 2001.
Donnelly is set to miss Pools’ National League fixtures against Barrow and Bromley as a result of his call-up for the Green & White Army, who are chasing qualification for the 2019 European Championships in Italy.
Northern Ireland currently sit second in Group 2, two points behind Spain and three points ahead of third-placed Iceland – and they face both of their rivals during a potentially pivotal four-day period at the end of the month.
Ian Baraclough’s youngsters will host leaders Spain at Shamrock Park in Portadown on Thursday 22nd March before lining-up against Iceland at The Showgrounds in Coleraine on Monday 26th March.
And with a five games in total still to come in the qualification period, Donnelly will remain eligible to break the long-standing record if he remains fit and free of suspension.
“It would be a good achievement and something to have on the CV,” admitted Donnelly.
“It would make it even better because I know Sean – I played in the same team as him for a little while at Dungannon Swifts and I think he would be happy for me taking the record.
“There’s still a lot of football to be played though – if it happens it would be nice but I am just concentrating on playing the games.
“I think Spain will be the toughest test we have but Iceland are a good team as well so these are the games you measure yourself in and hopefully we can get two positive results and look towards qualification.”