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Ben Reeves desire to become key player for Northern Ireland

By Steven Beacom

MK Dons midfielder Ben Reeves enjoyed his first taste of international football and is hungry for more.

The former Southampton ace made his Northern Ireland debut last month in the 2-0 victory in Greece and hopes to double his tally of caps on Friday against Romania in the latest Euro 2016 qualifier.

English-born Reeves, who qualifies for Northern Ireland due to Fermanagh family connections, is having a fine season at club level and impressed manager Michael O’Neill enough in training in October to be given a chance from the bench in Athens.

Coming on in the 78th minute, Reeves looked assured as O’Neill’s side built on their 2-0 win over the Faroe Islands a few days before, to move two points clear at the top of Group F, with that superb success against Claudio Ranieri’s team, who pre-tournament were favourites to top the group.

“It was brilliant to come on. Finally making my debut was the best bit about the trip for me,” said Reeves. “Now I can just look forward and hopefully play a bigger part in future games.

“It was great to get two good results during the time we were away with the squad. To have a win like that against Greece was unbelievable because most people probably weren’t expecting it.

“Now everyone’s looking forward to Romania, where we need to not rest on our laurels.”

Reeves, 22, is the type of player that appeals to O’Neill as he can play in midfield or just behind a striker. As a kid at Southampton he also played at full-back. 

Reeves is one of two MK Dons players in the Northern Ireland squad with striker Will Grigg also representing the League One outfit. As O’Neill has shown with Fleetwood right-back Conor McLaughlin, who has played in all three qualifiers to date, the manager is not afraid to give lower division players an opportunity.

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