Belfast Telegraph

Caolan Lavery moves into Northern Ireland Euro squad contention with top strike

By Steven Beacom

Caolan Lavery is hoping to be Michael O'Neill's wildcard choice for the Euro 2016 finals.

The 23-year-old Portsmouth striker, on loan from Sheffield Wednesday, will give himself a chance if he continues to shine at club level, having opened his account for Pompey at the weekend.

Portsmouth may have lost their League Two clash 2-1 to Notts County on Saturday, but Lavery showed a touch of quality with his finish to beat Northern Ireland goalkeeper Roy Carroll.

These things never go under O'Neill's radar - he misses nothing.

Lavery has yet to be capped, though like a host of other players on the fringes of O'Neill's plans has the tasty carrot of France tangling in front of him.

As I have written in our Euro countdown before, O'Neill will have 20 certs in his mind for next year's finals which means three slots in his squad are up for grabs, including places in attack.

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O'Neill will have been impressed that having told Lavery he needed to play regular football the young forward decided to go on loan to gain first team experience.

Lavery says: "I've been called into the full Northern Ireland squad and was on the bench for the Romania and Hungary qualifying games which was a great experience. It's definitely something I want to be a part of in the future.

"It's a big motivation for me to get into the Northern Ireland squad for the Euros. It's been a dream since I was a kid to play in a major tournament.

"The manager told me that I need to be playing games to give myself the best chance possible.

"Things weren't happening for me at Sheffield Wednesday, so as soon as I was able to leave on loan I did. Now I want to play as many games as I can to give myself the best possible chance."

Good attitude. O'Neill will definitely be keeping an eye on Lavery's progress.

Belfast Telegraph

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