DERBY County manager Nigel Clough believes Valentin Gjokaj’s international call to arms is just reward for the progress he has made since joining the club.
The Switzerland-born centre-back, 19, has been named in the Albania Under-21 squad for their friendly at home to Macedonia on February 6.
Gjokaj, who qualifies for Albania through his parents, Gjokaj, has made one first-team appearance for the Rams, in the opening day of the season as a late substitute in the 2-2 draw with Sheffield Wednesday.
Clough said: “We’ve had a huge amount of call-ups, which is fantastic for our players and the club.
“Val’s progressed nicely since joining us in the summer and this is a nice reward for him.”
Gjokaj’s call-up means an impressive nine Rams players will be on international duty next week, and one of those nine, defender Mark O’Brien, believes this is great news for the club.
He said: “It’s great for the club because everyone is getting recognition for what they do.
“We’ve got great young players coming through and it’s a great setup here which can hopefully attract more players in the future.”
O’Brien is in the Republic of Ireland Under-21 squad, with team-mates Richard Keogh, Conor Sammon and Jeff Hendrick called up to the Eire senior side.
Jamie Ward could add to his caps for Nortehrn Ireland, while Theo Robinson is set to make his debut for Jamaica.
Kieron Freeman (Wales Under-21s) and Mason Bennett (England Under-17s) complete the globe-trotting group.
O’Brien said: “It’s obviously great for the three lads getting called for the senior squad, and when I got told I was in the Under-21s, I was over the moon with that.
“Hopefully I can push on from this, because the last time I represented Ireland would have been for the Under-19s in the European Championships, when I came on as a sub in one game.
“I was captain of the Under-15s and Under-16s and I was in the Under-17s as well, so it’s brilliant to get back in and obviously it’s always great to represent your country.”
However, O’Brien insists that Derby’s Championship campaign is the most important thing, and is looking forward to bouncing back from Saturday’s FA Cup fourth round defeat to Blackburn Rovers when the Rams host Huddersfield Town on Saturday.
He said: “Club comes first and I want to do well for Derby.
“We’re always concentrating on the league, and we just want to do our best.
“We have a great set of lads and we can get a good week of training in and prepare for the next one.
“With us just having the league now, hopefully we can push on and finish well.”
The Terriers are currently managerless, having sacked Simon Grayson last week, and former Derby striker Mark Lillis could still be in caretaker charge come the weekend.
However, O’Brien said: “It can go one way or the other, because they can try and impress whoever comes in or end up being demoralised.
“We’ll just play our game at home and hopefully use our energy to see us through.
“We want to start the game well, that’s what we aim to do.”
On the Blackburn defeat, he said: “It was just one of those afternoons.
“They’ve got the half-chances and they’ve taken them.
“It’s disappointing because we felt as though we could have got something today, with home advantage, but it just wasn’t to be.
“I don’t think there was much in the game up until the goal.
“Then they got the break and we had to chase the game.
“It just never dropped for us and now we move onto the next one.”
DERBY’S final game of the season at home to Millwall has been moved to a 12.45pm kick-off.