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Northern Ireland v Latvia: Chris Baird will hand the baton over to versatile Paddy McNair

By Steven Beacom

There were laughs from Chris Baird when the subject of Paddy McNair's impressive versatility cropped up.

Shrewd and experienced individual that he is, Baird knew why he was being asked about his Northern Ireland team-mate at yesterday's media briefing.

For 12 years, Derby County's skipper has been a flexible friend for various Northern Ireland managers, playing in both full-back positions, centre half and in midfield roles.

The younger McNair (20) has the same adaptability, so who better to ask about the Manchester United star than Baird, who has been there and done that?

"I see certain qualities in Paddy that I had at that age coming through. Paddy can play any position," said the Rasharkin man.

"Obviously, when I do eventually finish, I imagine he'll step into my shoes as a utility player.

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"He's got all the qualities in the world and I wish him all the best, but I'm not done yet," chuckled Baird, who will be 34 in February.

"Paddy is technically very good, but then he's at Manchester United where he's getting all the best coaching.

"He's got those qualities to be a Man U player. I wish him all the best and hope he has a fantastic career.

"Personally, I wish I had held down one position. Say right back, for instance. I played most of my career there anyway and it wasn't until a few years later I started playing midfield.

"Sometimes it has been a hindrance for me (being a utility player).

"Sometimes you're needed here, needed there, other games not at all. It's Paddy's own personal preference. If he wants to hold down one position, go for it."

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