Belfast Telegraph

Conor McLaughlin rues bad luck

By Rory Dollard

Conor McLaughlin's first start for Northern Ireland almost produced a fairytale result.

McLaughlin, who competed alongside his brother Ryan, almost netted with a 20th-minute header.

"It was great starting the game with my brother because it really helped me settle into the game a lot quicker," he said.

"We've played together for the under-21s so it was great to start a senior international game together.

"Ryan said to me straight after it that he thought my effort was in but the keeper slowly got across to it and kept it out so it was a bit unlucky. I thought it was in too and I had another chance a few minutes later when I went in a bit too early from Olly Norwood's cross."

McLaughlin, a mainstay in Fleetwood's successful League One promotion charge, has been linked with moves to Bristol City and Blackpool

Meanwhile, Liam Donnelly is hoping to win a place for both club and country next season after making his Northern Ireland debut against Chile.

The 18-year-old defender has yet to feature for Fulham's first team but earned a call-up for the tour of South America on the back of some standout performances for the Under-21s.

Donnelly was awarded a first cap as a late substitute in the 2-0 loss to Chile and is eager for more.

"I'm very proud to make my debut," he said.

"With 10 minutes to go I could see a few boys warming up and I was getting edgy, not knowing if I was going to get on or not. I was kind of giving Michael (O'Neill) the eyes, trying to get his attention, but I was just happy I was able to get on. It was brilliant.

"I hope I've done enough in training to make Michael keep an eye on me."

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