Northern Ireland's Gavin Whyte prepared for one of the toughest tests of his career in Euro 2020 qualifier
Northern Ireland forward Gavin Whyte is braced for the one of the toughest games of his career in Thursday's crunch Euro 2020 qualifier away to Holland but little fazes a man who continues to make a rapid rise up the ranks.
Fifteen months ago Whyte was turning out for Irish League Crusaders in a pre-season friendly against the semi-professional Harland & Wolff Welders.
But since then he has since got a season of League One football under his belt with Oxford before signing for Championship club Cardiff in the summer, while earning five Northern Ireland caps.
After an impressive cameo as a substitute in last month's 2-0 defeat to Germany at Windsor Park, Whyte is hoping to get the nod from manager Michael O'Neill on Thursday in Rotterdam.
"This will probably be one of the hardest games I've played so far in my career, but I'm really looking forward to it," the 23-year-old said.
"You play football to test yourself and play these big teams in front of these crowds in these competitions."
Though he could not alter the result, Whyte added a spark to Northern Ireland's play in the final half an hour against the Germans in Belfast, showing he can make a difference to a game against some of the tough opposition out there.
"It gives me loads of confidence. It was obviously disappointing not lining up for that game, but it's the manager's decision and you have to abide by it," he said.
"I felt confident going on. He told me, 'Just get the ball and do your normal thing' and I didn't actually look at it as if it was a Germany game.
"I looked at it as if it was a normal game. I just wanted to get the ball as much as I could and do something with it. I thought I did alright when I came on."
It was shortly after that match against the Welders that Whyte was snapped up by Oxford, and he scored nine goals in 47 appearances for the U's to persuade Cardiff that he was worth a look this summer following their relegation from the Premier League.
He is yet to get on the score-sheet for the Bluebirds but has been a regular in Neil Warnock's side.
"I'm really enjoying my football at the moment," he said. "I'm confident in myself and taking every game as it comes. I want to play as much as I can.
"Working under Warnock is really good, just listening to him, he's been there done that, which can only make me better as a player.
"Every game that comes I feel I'm getting more confident, whereas at the start it's a new league and so competitive and I've never played in that league before.
"I'm getting used to it and I'm all settled in and taking each game as it comes.
"It's a big jump. You don't get as much time on the ball, but as I've always said everything's happened so quickly for me and I'm glad it's been like that.
"You have to adapt quickly. I think I've done that, but it's just the start and hopefully there are more chapters."