AS he heads into the prime of his footballing career, Corkman Alan Browne outlines he still has ambitions of becoming an English Premier League footballer.
The Preston North End captain could come up against FIFA’s top-ranked nation Belgium when the Republic Of Ireland welcome the Red Devils to the Aviva Stadium for a 5pm kick-off on Saturday.
Stephen Kenny’s side will then host Lithuania on Tuesday next at the same venue, with the match kicking off at 7.45pm.
Speaking on media duties as the Irish squad assembled ahead of the international games this week, Browne described his Premiership dreams.
"Personally it's an ambition of mine, to one day get there. I'd like to do that with my current club, Preston, if it's elsewhere then so be it, I'd give anything to play at the top level, that's where every player aspires to be.
"I haven't done it yet. I'm 26, pushing 27 and there's not a lot of time left. It's not something I have focused too much on, just stay in the moment, play my current football which is in the Championship, do my best for my club and see where that progresses."
Browne also described how he felt Stephen Kenny was deservedly rewarded with a new contract as Irish manager up until Euro 2024.
“He stuck to what he wanted us to do and it is a long process. He came under a lot of criticism at first but it is starting to look up now with performances and results, which is the most important thing. Long may that continue.
"It looks like we've turned a corner.
"So hopefully they’re taking to the new brand of football and the way that we’re trying to do things, and things are looking good for us.
“I think it’s always important to have fans on our side because they’re the ones going through the gate to pay the money to watch the football."
Meanwhile, John Eustace has been appointed the assistant coach of the Ireland Senior men’s national side.
The former Coventry City, Watford and Derby County midfielder, who is currently assistant manager at Championship side QPR, joins Stephen Kenny's staff ahead of the international friendly matches against Belgium and Lithuania and will be involved for the UEFA 2024 European Championship qualifying campaign.
Ireland manager Stephen Kenny said: “John has been assistant manager with Queens Park Rangers for four years and has established himself as an accomplished and well-respected coach.”