Peterborough United hotshot Conor Washington is expected to be given a chance to force his way into the Northern Ireland squad for the 2016 Euros in France.
The 23 year-old, who qualifies for Northern Ireland through a grandparent, was watched for the second time by Irish manager Michael O’Neill last weekend.
O’Neill has now seen Washington in action at the ABAX Stadium twice in FA Cup ties this season and on each occasion the in-form striker has scored an outstanding goal.
Northern Ireland have friendlies planned against Wales in Cardiff on March 24 (provisional date) and Slovenia in Belfast on March 28 (confirmed) and Washington is expected to be named in the squad for those games.
He could also be joined by Posh right-back Michael Smith who played superbly against Preston in front of O’Neill. The current first-choice Northern Ireland full-back, Conor McLaughlin, also plays in League One for Fleetwood.
Qualifiying nations for the Euros must name their 23-man squads for the finals by May 31.
Northern Ireland’s first match at the Euros is against Poland on June 12. They are also in the same group as World Champions Germany and Ukraine.
Posh manager Graham Westley said: “Conor and Michael are doing all they can to break into the Northern Ireland squad.
“Both players are in great form and both players performed very well again in front of the national manager last weekend.
“I’ve spoken plenty about Conor’s form, but Michael has also been very impressive in my time at the club.
“He’s an excellent footballer and an outstanding athlete.”
O’Neill could be tempted to stick with the players who earned Northern Ireland’s first qualification for a major tournament for 30 years.
But he also hopes to find some extra quality as he plans to shock the powerful nations in Ireland’s group.
Washington has no international experience, but Smith (27) has represented his country at Under 23 level.
Both, barring any late transfer deals, should start for Posh in the League One clash with Southend at the ABAX Stadium on Saturday.
Central defender Michael Bostwick could be available after missing the last two matches with a calf muscle injury.
Winger Jon Taylor will test the knee injury that kept him out of the Preston FA Cup win today (January 14).