Jonny Steele has been at it again. A sweet left-foot strike in Saturday’s 3-2 win over Sporting Kansas City not only saw his New York Red Bulls team go top of the MLS Eastern Conference, it will have reinforced the growing swell of opinion that the Larne man should be handed his first international call-up.
Northern Ireland boss Michael O’Neill has already gone on the record about Steele. He says he’s sure the 27-year-old is knocking on the door and ‘will get his chance soon’. For his part, Steele is certainly doing all he can to home in on a coveted first cap.
His hard work is paying off but it’s not so much his goals (three to date) which have caught the eye, rather his level of consistency - not to mention his link-up play with Thierry Henry.
Club commitments meant he wasn’t included in the squad for next week’s World Cup qualifier against Russia - the Red Bulls have a game away to Columbus Crew this weekend - but it’s certainly feasible he may get the call for the Portugal and Luxembourg matches in September.
Back in February, just days after sealing his move to New York, where he plays alongside stars of the calibre of Henry, Tim Cahill and Juninho, he told the Times of his burning ambition to represent Northern Ireland.
“I’m far from home. I’m not in England and I’m not just an hour away on a plane,” he admitted. “But do I think I could play at that level? One hundred per cent.”