Newport County AFC midfielder Josh Sheehan insists he never gave up on his dream of receiving a Wales call-up despite his injury troubles.
Sheehan's dream finally became a reality this week when he was included in the national squad for the first time after an impressive start to the 2020/21 campaign.
He has played every single minute of the Exiles' Sky Bet League Two fixtures this season and caught the eye of Wales manager Ryan Giggs, who took in the Carabao Cup fourth round clash against Newcastle United at Rodney Parade.
The 25-year old, who captained County against the Magpies, has previously represented Wales at under-19 and under-21 level, and always held out hopes of receiving a first-team call-up.
"When I did my knee and was out for nearly a year it was tough," said Sheehan.
"But I’ve always believed in myself and my ability. I know when I’m playing regularly my ability will shine through and it makes it extra sweet now. It’s never too late.
"Even from when I was a little boy growing up to now seeing people I know in the team, you dream of yourself being in that position and showing what you can do in the Welsh shirt. It’s always been a dream of mine."
The call-up to the squad has complimented a positive start to the season for the midfielder, who netted his first goal of the campaign against Carlisle United on Tuesday.
His perfomances have helped County on their way to the top of the Sky Bet League Two table, and Sheehan believes the backing of manager Michael Flynn has been key to his successful start.
"It makes a big difference to have the confidence of the manager and all the coaching staff.
"To know that when you make a mistake it won’t get highlighted that much is massive.
"Once you’re confident, you play a different game and I feel that at Newport. I feel like something has clicked."
Sheehan will join up with the Wales camp, alongside goalkeeper Tom King, on Sunday ahead of the triple header against the United States, the Republic of Ireland and Finland.
But he's looking to help the Exiles seal a place in the second round of the Emirates FA Cup before his time on international duty.
"For this club the FA Cup is a big deal," he added.
"The fact that we’re top of the league doesn’t change that. We’ve done well in the Carabao Cup and we want to do well in the FA Cup and get those Premier League teams again further on."