Allen hopes Inverness Caledonian Thistle move will boost Northern Ireland hopes
Curtis Allen is targeting a Northern Ireland call-up after making the step up from the Irish League to the Scottish Premier.
The striker admitted that he feared his shot at full-time football had gone, but now he wants to go all the way to the top.
And after signing a 12-month contract with SPL club Inverness Caledonian Thistle, the former Coleraine man is perfectly placed to fulfil his ambition of following up his under-17, under-19 and under-21 caps by pulling on the green shirt at senior level for the first time.
"I'm only 25-years-old, so I'm still young enough and it would be a major aspiration of mine to get into the Northern Ireland squad," said Allen. "I was very honoured to have played all the way up to under-21 level and it would be a massive thing for me if I was to get a call-up to the senior squad.
"I don't want to get ahead of myself, I've only just signed for Inverness after all, but I would love to be part of that.
"There are a lot of Northern Ireland players in the SPL and I know that the manager Michael O'Neill watches a lot of Scottish football, so I am in the right place to impress him."
Allen has international pedigree too. He can boast an international hat-trick at Windsor Park, scored in an under-17 tournament match against Liechtenstein in 2004.
Allen's tally of 17 goals in 37 league appearances last season – he was joint fourth in the goal charts with Joe Gormley and behind only Liam Boyce, Andy Waterworth and Darren Murray – impressed the Inverness scouts who had watched him over a period of time.
And he is now urging others in the Irish League to seize their opportunity to follow him across the Irish Sea and into the full-time game.
Boyce would appear the most likely man to be next, with Hibernian understood to be interested in the Cliftonville frontman.
"There were times that I didn't think it would happen – although I always believed that I was good enough," said Allen. "When things go quiet at the end of the season you start to worry, but then things happen quickly and it can all be done in a week or two.
"I don't see why others can't follow me from the Irish League to the SPL. People put the league down a lot, I don't know why, because there are a lot of good players and I think that it comes down a lot to belief.
"Some don't have enough belief in themselves, those that have will go across."
* Ballinamallard United have handed new deals to Jason McCartney and Steve Feeney.
And Spanish side Celta Vigo have confirmed their participation in the pre-season tournament at the Ballymena Showgrounds from July 24-27, joining a Liverpool XI, Hearts and Crusaders.