Leon Best is aiming to be the Republic of Ireland's World Cup superhero after earning his "Zorro" nickname this season at Coventry. The 22-year-old striker is set to be given his chance in the friendly against Nigeria on Friday as Kevin Doyle and Caleb Folan are out injured.
Folan is expected to return from his knee problem for the qualifier against Bulgaria in Sofia, although Best is aware he has the opportunity to play his way into the thoughts of coach Giovanni Trapattoni. Best is hoping to recapture his form from earlier in the season when he suffered a broken cheekbone but played with a protective mask. His goalscoring exploits wearing the shield led to his nickname.
"It's good that you can turn a broken cheekbone into a positive thing," Best said. "I'd love to be a superhero for Ireland now. I'm just delighted to be playing with the likes of Robbie Keane and learn off players like that."
Trapattoni is expected to field some of his inexperienced players at Craven Cottage against Nigeria, with senior squad members only set for a half at most. Keiren Westwood, Eddie Nolan and Sean St Ledger are in the frame for debuts along with Best.
"This season has been up and down for me," Best said. "I had a good spell in the cup and the period when I had the mask on. Towards the end it was upsetting with injuries. So for me to get called up is something I see as a blessing and I'm over the moon with it.
"The only thing I can do is take it in my stride. I can't think about it too much because it's the highest level and nerves would kick in. Hopefully everything will go my way."
Best is relishing the chance to represent his country. "My Mum is full Irish and I lived there between eight and 12," he said. "I went to school and played for teams there. Most of my family are from Ireland and my brother lives there with three nephews."
Meanwhile, Liam Miller will effectively be putting himself in the shop window if he features against Nigeria. The 28-year-old was released by QPR at the end of the domestic season and is looking for a new club, with Hull thought to be interested in him.
The former Manchester United midfielder would like to be playing Premier League football following his spell at Loftus Road. "Hopefully in the next couple of weeks there will be something sorted," he said.
"There are one or two places I'd like to be and being in the Premier League would be great. It was frustrating at QPR. After the manager [Paulo Sousa] left I didn't play the last four or five games. I didn't really know myself what happened but we were all disappointed to see the manager go because all the players liked him."Reuse content