Barry McCarthy is looking to hit the ground running after injury saw him miss all but five balls of the summer season.
The Pembroke man broke down just five balls into the ODI series against England, and subsequently missed the entire interprovincial campaign with Leinster Lightning.
The 28 year-old has made 42 appearances since his debut against Sri Lanka in 2016, but despite being a regular wicket-taker with 68 wickets at 27.71, he has failed to cement a regular slot in Graham Ford's new-look side.
“It certainly wasn't ideal having to hobble off the field five balls into the series, but that's behind me now," said McCarthy.
"Hopefully, I have a big year ahead in 2021 - this is a great start to the year, seven matches to really hit the ground running and hopefully cement a place that will be a very busy year.
"But to be honest, I'm not going to look too far beyond these seven games - 2021 is a long year, I am just hoping to play well in this series and take it from there.
(Barry McCarthy receives his debut cap from John Mooney)
“It's a great feeling to be back in action. We know we are quite privileged to be out here playing cricket and doing what we love to do while things aren't ideal at home.
"So we're going to enjoy every minute of it and do the best we can. It’s also nice to have something to train for, and this series gave us a purpose for the training.”
With the retirement of Tim Murtagh , plus Boyd Rankin and Peter Chase being left out, McCarthy has a chance to establish himself in the line-up after a stop-start beginning to international cricket.
“It goes without saying that Tim Murtagh and Boyd Rankin's absence leaves a big hole in this bowling unit with their immense experience and what they've achieved throughout their cricketing careers.
"But it now creates an opportunity for the younger guys to step up. However, those opportunities will have to be earned - which will make it competitive between the lads, as we all want to play every single game.”
(Barry McCarthy appeals)
“Personally, my focus is on doing what I need to do in developing my strengths and improve on my weaknesses with the goal of being the best I can be. If that's good enough to get me in the eleven, then I'm delighted - but I don't want to just settle for being a bowler in this team, I want to work hard and be a recognised figure on the international scene.”
The appointment of Stuart Barnes as the bowling coach gives the Dubliner a chance to learn new ideas and develop his game further.
“There's a lot of potential in this bowling group, so it's great to have Stuart come in to try and make us as good as we can be.
"It's great to have that certain person you can go to, to seek advice or bounce ideas off. Personally, I only met Stuart for the first time in Southampton, but it was evident to everyone that he had had a very quick impact on the bowlers, and hopefully, we can continue to work together well so that we can have a great year and grow as a unit.”
The UAE holds fond memories for McCarthy, who took 16 wickets at 17.69 in six matches against UAE, Scotland and Afghanistan on his last visit to the region in 2018.
That included his best-bowling figures of 5 for 46 against Afghanistan, whom the Irish meet later this month in three crucial World Cup qualifiers. He accepts that it will be a challenge to replicate that sort of return in a traditionally spin-friendly part of the world.
(Barry McCarthy bowling against Afghanistan)
“Stats like that aren't going to be easy to come by out here, it will be a difficult ask, but we’ll all work as hard as we can to hopefully leave with seven wins from seven games - to not dwell on the past but focus on what's ahead of us now.
“We know the Afghans well – we seem to have a series against them every year now, but I haven't seen the UAE side much. It won't be easy in their home conditions, but we want to win every game we go out to play an know what we need to do.
“We need to hit the top of off with the new ball, and be really specific with our death bowling. We've done a lot of analysis on the strengths and weaknesses of the opposition batters, and have a plan for specific batters.
“But in the end it comes down a simple plan - do the basics right and make sure your skills are topped up. If we can do that, we are in a good place to succeed.”
Ireland get under way on Friday (5.30am UK/Ireland) against the UAE in Abu Dhabi.