Aberdeen attacker Niall McGinn is aiming to make the most of what is likely to be his last chance at playing at a World Cup.
The Northern Ireland international will be 35 by the time the 2022 finals come round in November next year and it is clear he will not have many more opportunities at playing in the finals of a major tournament to add to his European championship appearance in 2016.
He said: “We have been so close before. We are looking forward to the campaign.
“We have had the taste of the Euros and are hungry to get more success.
“With the Euros qualifying groups you are always quietly confident. But with the World Cup it is always harder as you have the bigger teams.”
The opening game of Northern Ireland’s campaign comes against Italy on Thursday followed by a home game against Bulgaria next week.
McGinn, 33, needs no warning of the threat of the Italians but he knows it is results against the other teams in the group which will shape his country’s fate.
He said: “We have Italy, Switzerland, Bulgaria and Lithuania so it will be difficult.
“Italy are unbeaten in two years so it will be tough but we have to try to beat Bulgaria and Lithuania home and away.
“The big games always take care of themselves as you try to pick up as many points as possible away.
“Then in the home games you fancy your chances although it will be difficult.”
McGinn is in the veteran stage of his career but he insists he will always answer the call of his country if needed.
He said: “I have never once thought about walking away from international football.
“Once Northern Ireland don’t want me will be the day I walk away. It is always really enjoyable to be part of.”