JORDAN RHODES hopes to take the first step on the road to international stardom tonight.
But Town’s 18-goal top scorer has reassured fans he’ll be fully focused on League I action when Lee Clark’s promotion chasers face Notts County on Sunday.
While influential Kevin Kilbane, who is with the Republic of Ireland for Dublin games against Macedonia on Saturday and Uruguay next Tuesday, will miss the Sky-televised showdown at the Galpharm (4.00), Rhodes’ Scotland Under 21 assignment is for one night only.
Billy Stark’s side face Belgium in Deinze as they look to a European Championship qualifying campaign which starts in September and brings meetings with Holland, Bulgaria, Luxembourg and Austria.
And Rhodes, who missed out on the chance of facing Northern Ireland Under 21s in November so he could play in Town’s FA Cup clash at Cambridge, travels back to Huddersfield tomorrow.
While he was born in Oldham, the Town ace lived North of the border for nine years while dad Andy was keeping goal for Dunfermline, St Johnstone and Airdrie.
New rules meaning that five years of education in a country acts as qualification to play has handed the former Ipswich player his opportunity.
“I don’t want to make any big statements, I just want to work as hard as I can and try to earn a chance,” said the 21-year-old.
“The timing is good in that our match against Notts County isn’t until Sunday, so I have a day extra to get back and prepare.”
On choosing the Scots, Rhodes explained: “All my early memories are of living up there and I feel the country is very much a part of me.”
Before the arrival of Scott Arfield from Falkirk in the close-season, Town hadn’t had a Scotland international at any level since Joe Harper played against Canada in 1967.
On-loan Hull midfielder Kilbane is hoping to extend his record number of Republic of Ireland caps to 109 in the Euro 2012 qualifier against Macedonia at the Aviva Stadium.
Meanwhile keeper Alex Smithies is still having treatment on the knee niggle which forced him to pull out of the England Under 21 squad.