Midfielder ready for the international sceneHope Akpan says he is bursting with pride as he flies out to join the Nigeria squad for back to back African Cup of Nations Qualifiers with Sudan.
The 23-year-old earned his first call up to the Super Eagles for the vital matches, with Stephen Keshi's side in need of a win to get a stuttering qualifying campaign back on track.
"It felt great when I heard the news, I got a phone call out of the blue," said the former Everton midfielder. "I was born in Liverpool but both parents are Nigerian and they are very proud, they'll be out there for the game. Everyone wants to play at the highest level, international level is a high level - for me it is very exciting and I want to do well. I am going there to play; hopefully I get some minutes and help contribute to the team."
After injury ruled Akpan out of last weekend's defeat to Brentford, he is hoping that involvement at international level will give him momentum to return to Nigel Adkins' starting line up.
"Once this is done I want to get back to work, back to the league and Derby. We were looking to get maximum points from our last two games so we have to turn it around."