Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 September 2014

Cliftonville's Liam Boyce will stay patient to earn a full-time deal

Warming up: Northern Ireland players Billy McKay, Luke McCullough and Paul Paton train in Montevideo yesterday

Cliftonville star Liam Boyce is willing to risk becoming a free agent to achieve his dream of returning to full-time football.

The prolific striker, whose 60 goals in the last two seasons have gone a long way to delivering successive Irish League titles to Solitude, finds himself at a crossroads and has no intention of rushing into a decision.

He is out of contract this summer and Cliftonville's initial offer of a new one came with a June 1 deadline – a matter complicated somewhat by the 23-year-old's subsequent call-up to the national side's ongoing tour of South America.

Boyce makes no secret of the fact that he aspires to bigger and better things and is hoping reported interest from England, Scotland or even the League of Ireland turns into something more concrete.

"Coming here (to South America) is a big deal so hopefully common sense will prevail and I can talk to Cliftonville when I get home," he said ahead of the friendly against Uruguay.

"Full-time football is my dream and if I have to wait for my chance, then I have to make big decisions and look after myself.

"I love playing for Cliftonville but this is my life and my career so I have to make the best of it.

"My agent filled me in with who was interested in me before I came to Uruguay and I told him to email me when I was here if there was any interest.

"He has been emailing me asking how I'm doing here but he is talking to a few teams to see if one of them will take a chance on me.

"I'm prepared to wait as late as possible to get a full-time team."

Boyce's previous experience of life outside Cliftonville was a mixed bag.

He was surprisingly picked up by Bundesliga outfit Werder Bremen in 2010, but never made his way into the first team reckoning and was released after little more than a year.

But the sour end to his time in Germany has not dampened his enthusiasm for a challenge.

"I don't regret going to Germany at all," he added.

"That experience made me the player I am today.

"It might sound stupid but I learned how to pass a ball and the training was a big help and something I want to do it again.

"I've started training the way I should be and I've lost some weight.

"To make it in full-time football you need more training than the Irish League can give you and I am taking it much more seriously now."

Boyce is desperate to add to the four caps he won under Nigel Worthington against Uruguay and Chile and admits he is pushing himself to the very limits to earn his chance.

"It's been three years since I was in the squad, but I was fitter then so it wasn't such a big a step up," he conceded.

"Going from training two nights a week to this is massive to be honest so I can feel the difference already.

"When I'm with Cliftonville it is obviously much more relaxed but here there is a lot of work to do.

"Now that I am here I want to play and test myself against a La Liga winner and Champions League players.

"I know there are players in front of me but it is up to me to get myself into the manager's thoughts."

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