Northern Ireland striker Billy Kee will take promotion to the senior squad in his stride as they prepare to meet Slovakia in a vital FIFA World Cup™ qualifier on Wednesday.

That is the verdict of U-21 manager Steve Beaglehole, who is also coach at Kee's parent club Leicester City. The 18-year-old has been loaned out to League Two side Accrington to gain experience after suffering a knee injury last season that curtailed his progress.

Kee was due to play for the U-21s against Iceland tomorrow but instead has a date at Windsor Park on Wednesday as Kyle Lafferty may be sidelined with a knee injury. Northern Ireland could go top of Group 3 and Beaglehole said: "It is quiet unbelievable what is happening to Billy. It is the stuff you read about in comics - real Roy of the Rovers.

"A lot of the time you wonder if the fear factor will kick in when you promote a player. But Billy will be able to cope, no problem. If he was required in the game, it would not faze him."

Kee was part of the U-21 side that lost to the Czech Republic last week and Beaglehole added: "Billy is an old-fashioned centre forward, who goes in where it hurts. If he has to loose a couple of teeth getting the ball, then so be it. The fact he is in the senior squad for such a big game is fantastic for him, Leicester and of course Accrington."