ONDREJ CELUSTKA is eager to make his international bow tonight, despite the Czech Republic facing a near-impossible task in the final round of World Cup qualifiers.
Celustka’s impressive start to his season-long loan at the Stadium of Light has been rewarded, with the right-back earning a first senior call-up to the Czech squad.
The 24-year-old is expected to make his bow away to Malta tonight before the final qualification game for next summer’s World Cup, in Bulgaria on Tuesday.
Italy have already secured top spot in Group B, while Bulgaria and Denmark lie four and three points respectively ahead of the Czechs in the fight to secure a play-off berth.
But, despite those minimal chances of qualifying, Celustka insists he has “huge motivation” if he represents his country for the first time since earning 18 caps at Under-21 level.
“The chance has come up now and I’m loving it,” said Celustka.
“Our chances (of qualifying) are really slim, but, even so, we have to try to win both encounters.
“We have to consider the future. The points we earn will count towards which pot we are in for the next qualification campaign, so it would be useful if we could win twice.
“Playing for your country should always be a motivation for everyone too and, personally, I have huge motivation.
“There is something to play for – this could be my first game at senior level so it’s a great challenge.”
Celustka returned to Sunderland’s starting XI last weekend, yet was unable to help the Black Cats move off the Premier League’s basement or add to their sorry tally of a solitary point.
But the on-loan Trabsonzpor man, who has been one of the early success stories of Sunderland’s summer spending spree, believes Gus Poyet’s side have sufficient quality to emerge from the relegation zone.
“I have had a good feeling about my performances in the opening matches, even though we have not started the season very well and have only picked up one point,” he added.
“I’m playing in the competition that I dreamed about, but, when you look at the table, it’s definitely not ideal.
“But I still believe that we just need the break of one victory because, in lots of matches, we have played well.
“We scored an early goal against Manchester United and they were shocked.
“Although our league position is not good, we dominated the first half.
“But, unfortunately, they got two quick goals in the second half and we couldn’t react.”