Sean's joy at international call-up

Sean St Ledger savoured the prospect of putting on a Republic of Ireland shirt for the first time insisting: "It doesn't get any better than this."

The Preston defender admitted he could not wait to

experience the buzz of facing Germany, the third best team in the world, in front of a 52,000 partisan crowd in Stuttgart.

And even though he knew he might not get a kick, St Ledger was "thrilled" at the prospect of just sitting on the bench at the futuristic Gottlieb-Daimler Stadium where England clashed with Ecuador in the last 16 of the World Cup at the end of June.

"I'm still pinching myself – it doesn't seem real," said the 21-year-old, who only made the step-up to Championship football in the summer.

"Everything has happened so quickly for me. I was playing in League Two with Peterborough in May, then I joined Preston and now I'm in the Irish squad. It just gets better and better."

St Ledger was a shock late recruit to Steve Staunton's party on Tuesday after Birmingham's Stephen Kelly withdrew through injury.

The youngster acceptted he was only in Germany for yesterday's (Saturday) opening European Championship qualifier as cover in case anything happened to regulars Richard Dunne, Andy O'Brien and Gary Doherty.