Callum O'Dowda: Oxford United to Ireland and back in 10 days

By Adam WilliamsBBC Sport
Callum O'Dowda
Callum O'Dowda has scored three goals in League Two for Oxford United this season

Four games in the space of 10 days sounds like a recipe for burnout with modern day footballers. But, not it would seem for 20-year-old Oxford United midfielder Callum O'Dowda.

Especially when those games go from the passion of an Oxford-Swindon derby in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy on Tuesday to your first international goal for Ireland Under-21s against Lithuania on Friday.

Those moments have been sandwiched in between a 3-1 victory at Accrington and a 3-0 defeat against Italy Under-21s in Vicenza.

Back at Oxford United's training ground behind the city's BMW Mini plant, a fresh-faced O'Dowda is already focusing on the weekend's trip to Leyton Orient in League Two.

It is less that 24 hours since his return from international duty, but the Kidlington-born winger is more than happy to sit down and share his experiences of facing Italy's next generation.

"I feel quite fresh," he told BBC Sport.

"The Italy game wasn't as hard as I thought it would be physically. A lot of the time I wasn't getting on the ball, making the runs or running at the opposition with the ball.

"Once Italy had a man sent off from around 60 minutes in, it felt like a normal game again."

Callum O'Dowda's 10-day footballing journey
3 October: Scores opening goal in 3-1 win at Accrington. Substituted after 78 minutes9 October: Scores first international goal for Ireland Under-21 against Lithuania
6 October: Plays in 2-0 JPT victory against Swindon13 October: Plays in Ireland Under-21s 3-0 defeat against Italy

After finding himself on the bench at the start of the season, O'Dowda forced himself into Michael Appleton's starting line-up and was rewarded with a first goal of the season against Yeovil on 29 August.

Since then, his eye for goal has widened and his attacking threat has increased, adding two more league goals for the U's.

"I said last season that I wanted to get more goals into my game," he added. "I've already reached the same number I scored last season and if I can just add to that, it just helps the team."

George Baldock and Callum O'Dowda
Callum O'Dowda (right) lines up in a defensive wall alongside George Baldock

Among the spectators on the evening of his first international goal in Waterford on Friday were Martin O'Neill and Roy Keane.

That proved not to be the only added exposure. In the social media age, O'Dowda's close-range volley was broadcast across the nation within minutes.

"I wasn't expecting to see the actual goal again," he said.

"Normally, you struggle to find the footage of those games when you're playing in them. But, it was broadcast on television in Ireland and I had loads of my family sending me videos of it straight away."

O'Dowda will hope his next goal, either in Oxford United yellow or Ireland green, gets an equal number of retweets.

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