Belfast Telegraph

Man United's Paddy McNair thrilled to join Northern Ireland set-up

By Steven Beacom

Manchester United teenager Paddy McNair has spoken of his joy at being called into the Northern Ireland squad for next Friday’s Euro 2016 qualifier against Romania. The 19-year-old from Ballyclare is delighted to be part of Michael O’Neill’s plans and is determined to make his senior international debut as quickly as possible.

In Bucharest that is a genuine possibility with Northern Ireland boss O’Neill having to reshuffle his pack at the back to cope with unwanted injuries to Aaron Hughes and Shane Ferguson.

McNair has already taken advantage of a similar situation at Old Trafford.

The youngster would not have been part of Louis van Gaal’s immediate plans when the Dutchman took over at United in the summer, but with so many front line defenders suffering injuries this season, McNair has been called upon and has not let the Red Devils boss or the team down.

He was a steady influence in home wins over West Ham and Everton and on Sunday, having returned from a hamstring injury that kept him out of Northern Ireland’s squad for last month’s Euro victories against the Faroe Islands and Greece, he came off the bench in the 1-0 defeat at Manchester City.

After showing what he can do at club level, McNair now wants to deliver on the international stage.

And he, like everyone else, will be aware that given Northern Ireland’s incredible start to the campaign, winning three games out of three and topping the Group F table, there could be places for the Euro 2016 finals in France up for grabs.

On his call up McNair, who has already played at under 19 and under 21 level for Northern Ireland, said: “It’s really good. When I was growing up I always aimed to play for my country. Obviously, as I have been playing for United, one of the biggest clubs in the world, I did hope I would receive the call.

“I’m really happy to be called up. I could have been involved last month for the Faroes and Greece games, so it’s great I have been recalled to the squad for the Romania match.

“I want to keep working hard and play as many games as I can for United and hopefully I can break into the Northern Ireland team.”

With United’s continuing injury problems in defence and Chris Smalling suspended, McNair is in line to feature at home to Crystal Palace on Saturday before joining up with the international squad.

He will be met by a few familiar faces who were previously at Old Trafford.

McNair said: “I do know a few of the lads in the squad, Corry Evans and Luke McCullough from United of course. I also know  others from the under 21s so I’m looking forward to it.”

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