NEWPORT County AFC striker Padraig Amond admits he’s shocked to earn his first call-up to the Republic of Ireland squad at the age of 30.

Amond, County’s top scorer with 21 goals so far this season, has been rewarded for his strikes against Leicester City, Middlesbrough and Manchester City in the FA Cup with a place in Mick McCarthy’s provisional squad for this month’s European qualifiers against Gibraltar and Georgia.

And he couldn’t quite believe it when Exiles boss Michael Flynn broke the news to him earlier this week.

“I was surprised to be called up, I knew there had been a bit of chat about it, but you don't fully expect or believe it will actually happen,” he told BBC Radio Wales.

“I have dreamed of this happening for as long as I can remember and when I found out earlier in the week it was a special, special moment.

“I found out, I had a few missed calls from the manager and he rung me to tell me the club had got word. He then forwarded on the emails from the FAI.

“I had only just woken up, so it was quite difficult to take in! It was brilliant. But it has been quite tough as well, because I have known since Monday and haven't been able to tell anyone until it was announced.

“I could only tell my family, my friends found out about five minutes before the club announced it!

“At the moment I am just enjoying being called up. I am very proud of it, it is hard to put into words just how happy I am. It is a brilliant moment for me.”

South Wales Argus:

Born in Carlow, Amond has made more than 500 career appearances and previously featured for his country four times at under-21 level.

If selected for the final squad of 23, he will be eligible for next Friday's match against Cheltenham Town at Rodney Parade before departing to join up with the Irish squad on Sunday, March 17 – St Patrick’s Day.

He would miss the home game with Paul Scholes’ Oldham Athletic on March 23 as the first of the European qualifiers is away in Gibraltar on the same day with the second against Georgia on March 26 at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin.

If he does get onto the pitch in either match, Amond will become only the second player to win a senior cap while at County since Nigel Vaughan and Steve Lowndes both played for Wales in a friendly against Brazil in June 1983.

Calaum Jahraldo-Martin, who left the Exiles last summer, turned out for Antigua & Barbuda against Bermuda and Jamaica in March 2018.

New Ireland boss McCarthy said: “Padraig Amond has been brought to the attention of everyone by his goals in the FA Cup.

“I tend not to judge people on a couple of games in cup competitions because teams do have really good times and they can get a hero from them, but he’s scored goals wherever he’s been.”