MORTON defender Oisin McEntee hopes he can cap off a perfect first season in senior football by securing Championship safety and qualifying for the Euros with Ireland Under-21s.

The 21-year-old has been called up for the Republic’s UEFA U21 European Championship qualifier with Sweden after his stellar performances in Dougie Imrie’s defence since the turn of the year.

Despite his latest call-up meaning he'll miss Saturday’s six-pointer against Ayr United, McEntee has backed his team-mates to get the job done in his absence.

He told the Tele: “I go away with the Republic of Ireland Under-21s again so I'm gutted to be missing out on Saturday, but it’s always an honour to represent your country.

“Hopefully the lads can get three points without me and work hard like I know they can.

"If they do then I have no doubt in my mind where the points will end up because they’re fully capable of doing it.

“We’re off to play Sweden this time in the European Championship qualifying groups and if we can beat them then we’ll be in a very good position in terms of progressing to the finals.

“If I can secure Morton’s place in the Championship for next season as well as potentially qualify for the European Championships with Ireland then that would be a great first season in men's football for myself. It would be the perfect ending."

The Newcastle United loanee says he's grateful to Morton for giving him the chance to play first-team football.

And McEntee hopes to use his performances in the Championship as a platform to make the breakthrough into Eddie Howe’s first-team squad when he returns to St James' Park next season.

He said: “When I go back to Newcastle in the summer I’m hoping that I'll maybe be in and around the first team squad because I feel like I've done really well here at Morton.

"I’ll just need to see how things go over the next couple of months and play it by ear.

“I’m really happy at the minute. The club have given me a chance of playing first-team football week-in, week-out and I'm really enjoying it.

“I’ve not really heard a lot from Newcastle but I've been speaking to a few of the lads like Tom Allan, who was up with me, and they’ve just said it’s a massive change as to what it used to be.

"It’ll be something to get my teeth stuck into next season.”

McEntee insists the players should take pride in how far they’ve come under Imrie with a dramatic turnaround in form taking them from bottom of the table to within touching distance of Championship safety with six games to go.

He said: “We should be proud of how far we’ve come in such a short space of time under the gaffer.

"We’ve strung in a few excellent performances since the turn of the year and we just need to keep on trying to do that between now and the end of the season.

"We’ve gone from being bottom of the league to kicking ourselves that we’ve not managed to close in on the top five after losing out on that late goal [against Dunfermline].

“We need to keep on playing well and putting in good performances like we have been and hopefully the results will continue to follow between now and the end of the season."