Northern Ireland under-21 defender Lee Hodson has been handed a boost ahead of tonight’s European Championship qualifier with Germany.
Hodson, who is just 18-years-old, has signed a new three-year contract at Watford.
The English-born full-back, who qualifies for Northern Ireland through a grandparent — has played 14 times in the Hornets first-team this season and is expected to win his third under-21 cap against the Germans at the Oval this evening.
“Going away with Northern Ireland is a great experience,” said Hodson. “International football is always good, it's the next step to the higher level — I'm enjoying it and it's a test, but it's great to have reached another goal.”
Under-21 manager Steve Beaglehole is relishing the challenge of facing Germany, even though his side have lost three successive matches in their UEFA Championship qualifying campaign.
Beaglehole is boosted by senior boss Nigel Worthington allowing Ryan McGivern to drop down, but another player with full international experience, Andy Little, has been forced to withdraw from the squad to face the current European champions.
“There is no sterner test, but it is a match we are looking forward in front of our own supporters,” said Beaglehole.
“Germany are always well organised, the players know their jobs individually and collectively.
“They very rarely go through the motions. They have a winning mentality, which has been proven over the years. “
The match will go ahead as scheduled even though Germany's senior national team have cancelled a friendly with Chile on Saturday as a mark of respect to goalkeeper Robert Enke, following his death this week.
There will be a minute's silence at the Oval.