Amadou Bakayoko is set to launch an international career with Sierra Leone after being named in their squad for the first time.
The Wanderers’ striker will link up with the country of his birth for a series of three friendlies to be played in Turkey in the up-coming international break.
Bakayoko will fly out following Wanderers’ game at Crewe Alexandra on Saturday ahead of games against Togo, Liberia and Congo Brazzaville as part of preparations for the start of qualifying for the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations in the Ivory Coast.
“I’m delighted. I feel more than anything that I’m ready to go now and I can go and show what I can do and hopefully help out the country,” said the 26-year-old, who has netted 10 times in his first season with Wanderers.
“Having it in your heart – the feeling of playing for your country – and the importance of playing international football will hopefully do me a lot of good.
“It will be good to get a feel of international football and see what that’s about and hopefully it will improve me in lots of different ways.
“We’ve got three friendlies coming up and then in June the start of the qualifiers for the African Cup of Nations and hopefully, God willing, I can be involved in that.”
Bakayoko would also have been eligible to play for Guinea but has opted to represent Sierra Leone and follow in the footsteps of former Whites’ midfielder Medo Kamara and add to Wanderers’ current international roster.
Dion Charles has been included in Northern Ireland’s squad for their two friendly fixtures and with further call-ups set to be confirmed, Wanderers’ scheduled League One fixture at home to Portsmouth has been postponed and re-arranged for Tuesday, 5 April.
The strength of Wanderers’ striking resources has been underlined by the international recognition, with Bakayoko catching the eye after already equalling his best tally for a season – despite a couple of spells out through injury for the former Walsall and Coventry City frontman.
“Competition is good in the team. It showed last month with the rotation we had that everyone played their part and we need a lot more throughout the season and hopefully we end it strong,” added Bakayko, whose five goals in February earned him the PFA Vertu Motors Fans’ League One Player of the Month prize.
“I’m hoping to get more goals in the last few games. I’m proud of myself but I think there’s a lot more to come from me and the team. You just want to keep improving and I think this is just the start.”
Bakayko will be looking to sign off with a bang if he’s involved at Crewe, where Ian Evatt’s men will be seeking a first win in three games to try and move back into the top 10 and at least keep the play-off places in sight over the final eight games.
“We’ve all touched on it. Finishing strong is key. It’s definitely not over,” insisted Bakayoko.
“It’s up to us to go and really make sure we perform right and do our bit and let the rest handle itself.”
To watch Amadou talk about his international call-up and life at Wanderers, click HERE