YOUNGSTER Lewis McCann believes that being trusted by his manager to play top-team football has enhanced his international ambitions.

The 18-year-old has been delighted with the game time that he’s had so far this season, which has already led to two call-ups to represent Northern Ireland at under-21 level.

But, while he admits to having had more opportunities than he thought he would get, he’s hoping for more as he continues to adapt to first-team football from playing in the reserves.

McCann, currently sidelined with an injury sustained to his hand, won his first under-21 caps for the country of his father’s birth last month against Malta and Finland, before being selected again for European Championship qualifiers against Denmark and Romania.

He came off the bench against the Danes, a game in which his brother, St Johnstone player Alistair, also played in, but missed out on the second match.

Despite that, it has been an encouraging campaign so far for the Fife Elite Football Academy product, who told Press Sport: “For me personally, it has been good.

“I’ve played a few games – I think it’s five starts, with six appearances off the bench – which is good for my age. I’m well chuffed with it.

“I thought, still technically being a reserve player, I’d be in and around the first team, but being involved quite a lot this season has been good.

“It shows they (Pars management team) trust me as well and that I’m not there just to fill numbers. It’s nice that they’re showing trust in me by continually playing me.

“Even though there’s a big bridge between reserve football and first-team football, that I’m still trying to get to grips with, I feel like I’m doing a decent job with it.

“But I’ve still got a lot to learn and, hopefully, that will come with more games.”

McCann, who joked that he comes from “quite a diverse family”, with his mum coming from England in addition to his Portadown-born dad, was born in Edinburgh but has also represented Northern Ireland at under-19 level.

“It’s nice because it boosts your confidence, people recognising that you’re doing well, especially to play under-21s at 18-years-old,” he continued.

“There was never interest from Scotland, so it was sort of like a no-brainer for me. I always had eyes for Scotland; being here all my life, and growing up here, I considered myself Scottish.

“But if they’re not showing that they want to take me, I might as well go and play for someone that wants to play me.

“The Northern Ireland 21s manager (Ian Baraclough) said that you have to be playing to get in the squad; just because you’ve been there once, doesn’t mean your place is guaranteed every single time.

“Michael O’Neill (manager of the senior squad) said if you want to get in the first team, you’ve got to playing first team at your club, so who knows?”

At the forefront of McCann’s mind, though, is making a recovery from injury, and he added: “I cut it (his hand) on fencing, then I ran and it just ripped open.

“I had to get surgery on it because I’d ripped the muscle underneath it as well, and then I went away with Northern Ireland to Romania, slipped and fell on it, and it just split open again.

“It’s annoying in a way but I’d rather be safe than sorry now and wait because, if it pops open again, I was told I’d get a skin graft or something. Just being patient is what I’m doing with it .”