Why Blackburn are Rover the moon with hotshot Szmodics
Sammie Szmodics may not yet have made a breakthrough for his country but he is on fire for his club.
Blackburn's attacking midfielder is the top scorer in the Championship this season with 10 goals.
Yet he remains uncapped by the Republic of Ireland and has been omitted from Stephen Kenny's most recent squad.
Ahead of the national team's fixtures against Netherlands and New Zealand, we examine Szmodics' fine form for Rovers and explore the reasons behind his Irish exile.
Szmodics was born in Colchester in Essex but qualifies for the Republic of Ireland through his grandmother.
He has yet to win a cap, despite being first called up by Kenny back in 2021 for games against Andorra and Hungary.
Szmodics pulled out with a shoulder problem and did not get a recall until last month for the Euro 2024 qualifiers against Greece and Gibraltar.
Frustratingly, the 28-year-old had to withdraw for personal reasons. And as Kenny explained in his press conference this week, those issues also kept the player out of the current squad.
He said: "I didn't consider Szmodics for selection. He had to leave on the second day of the last camp for personal reasons.
"Those personal reasons haven't changed and he can't be away for 10 days.
"It's a personal situation. He can't be away for that length of time, so he wasn't considered."
Szmodics' form for Blackburn this season is certainly worthy of international recognition. In addition to reaching double figures, he has provided two assists in 16 Championship appearances.
He has also shown his versatility, with Rovers boss Jon Dahl Tomasson using him as an attacking midfielder, left winger and striker.
Last season, Szmodics spoke about the impact Tomasson has had on his game.
He said: "I think the manager has taken my performances, on and off the ball, to another level.
"I understand the game a lot more, read the game a lot better.
"I'm a confident lad and I always knew I would get a run in the team and show the fans what I can do, not just with the goals and numbers by your name, but the performances.
"I dismiss the compliments I get for my work rate because I feel it's something we all do. Everyone works hard, it's non-negotiable."
Having started his career at hometown club Colchester, Szmodics is something of a late bloomer.
He moved up to the Championship with Bristol City in 2019 but soon found himself at Peterborough, who he helped to promotion from League One in 2021.
His performances for Posh won him a transfer to Blackburn the following year and it would now seem the only way is up.
The Lancashire club are only four points from a play-off position. But if they fail to win promotion this term, Szmodics is likely to be a wanted man.
A first cap for Republic of Ireland will surely come as soon as the situation becomes possible.
Szmodics is used to playing a waiting game but he has already proved he will take an opportunity when he gets one.