Canary star Russell Martin is keeping his fingers crossed that this week’s nine-minute outing for the land of his father’s birth proves to be just the start of his Scottish international career.
The City full-back replaced Stephen Crainey in the 81st minute of last night’s 3-1 Carling Nations Cup opener against Wales in a near-empty Aviva Stadium, Dublin.
On Sunday night Craig Levein’s men play the Republic of Ireland in the final of the four-team tournament offering Russell a chance to add a second international cap to his new collection and ensure that his summer continues to get better and better.
“I really enjoyed it and I was delighted to get my first cap,” said the 25-year-old, forced to cut short his end of season celebrations with his Canary team-mates in Las Vegas in order to answer Levein’s call.
Though, for now, he failed to dislodge Steven Whittaker from Levein’s starting plans, he has now dipped a first toe into the waters of international football.
And with both Premiership football and a Euro2012 qualifying campaign looming this autumn, opportunity will surely knock again for the popular Canary defender.
“I was hoping I’d get on at some point and get a good 10 minutes or so,” added Martin, the game having long been won by the time of his late arrival.
“Catching up with the pace of the game was hard work, but the boys had the game won by that point and were playing well so it was a great feeling,” he told Scottish TV afterwards.
“We played at a real high tempo and played some good football. Hopefully that shows what is to come.”
As the Scottish Press discovered, Martin’s path to international football hasn’t been the most straight-forward.
He was, after all, born in Brighton and at one stage could be found playing non-league with Lewes before the professional game came a-calling again.
It was the experience of working with City chief Paul Lambert at Wycombe Wanderers that really set Martin on the way to top flight football – the pair being reunited at Carrow Road via Colchester and Peterborough respectively.
It was Lambert’s Scottish connections that first marked the card of the Scottish FA in that Martin could qualify via his father’s place of birth.
Though, in the event, a Scottish Under-21 cap never materialised, he has now got a full cap to his credit – rich reward for a season in which he played every minute of every game for the Premiereship-bound Norfolk club.
“It’s something I’ve wanted for a while, pretty much the whole season to be honest,” Martin told STV.
“As soon as the gaffer [Paul Lambert] spoke to me a few months ago and planted the seed in my head, it was something to aim for. Thankfully it has come. It was a surprise I got it so early, I thought I’d maybe have to prove myself again next season.
“But it has come and hopefully I’ll do enough to stay in the squad in the future.”
Speaking ahead of last night’s game, Martin also revealed a little more about City’s end-of-season jolly to Vegas.
With international duty calling, he eased off on the party front. Others, it appears, were starting to flag three days into their trip Stateside.
“I got a voice mail from Michael Oliver (Levein’s scout) just as I landed in Las Vegas and and I told the lads that I might have to go home,” said Martin, who – it was revealed at the club’s own end of season dinner – isn’t one of life’s natural heavy drinkers.
“I took it a bit easy,” he admitted.
“I stayed for a couple of days, but didn’t party as much as the other lads.
“But I think they wanted to come home with me on the third day – they were knackered by then.”
Martin wasn’t the only Norwich representative to be found at the Aviva – team-mate Owain Tudur Jones was a late addition to Gary Speed’s Welsh squad and duly made his first start for his country after four previous appearances off the bench.
It would, in part, make up for a disappointing season for the 26-year-old who found himself out on loan at Brentford as his team-mates drove on for that prized place in the Premier League.
Andrew Crofts, however, wasn’t involved. The City midfielder was obliged to pull out of Speed’s squad with a thumb injury.