Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland boss Michael O'Neill will give Liam Boyce chance to shine

By Graham Luney

Liam Boyce is expected to be a big winner when Michael O'Neill today names his Northern Ireland squad for a friendly against Qatar.

O'Neill's men will face the 2022 World Cup hosts at Crewe Alexandra on May 31 and the Gresty Road contest will allow players on the fringes of first team selection to stake their claim for a cherished place in the squad for the Euro 2016 qualifier against Romania at Windsor Park on June 13.

Former Cliftonville hero Boyce is expected to be recalled to the squad after rediscovering his form at Ross County.

Boyce notched the winner against Hamilton five minutes from the end to secure the Staggies' Premiership safety and the supporters have recognised his immense contribution this season by selecting him as their Player of the Year.

The 24-year-old has won four caps and was on last summer's South American tour, though he has yet to figure for Northern Ireland in the Euro 2016 qualifiers.

His recent scoring exploits, however, suggest he could take some of the pressure off O'Neill's star striker Kyle Lafferty.

Boyce has already committed to a new two-year contract with the Staggies and is aiming to make further progress next season having made a strong impression at Dingwall after his move from Cliftonville.

Boyce said: "I set myself the target of 10 goals this season - and I achieved it. Even when I wasn't getting a regular start, I always felt I could score goals.

"Next year I'll just do the same, aim for 10, and if I get there quickly I'll re-evaluate it. I was out of shape when I signed. It took me time to get there but I feel good now and next season I'll come back even stronger."

Another player still on O'Neill's radar is Bolton Wanderers winger Liam Feeney.

The 28-year-old, who was born in London, will speak with his family before making a decision on his international career.

"There's been some interest but I'm still weighing up my options and hopefully it's something that will happen for me," Feeney said.

"I'd love to play international football for someone but it's important to my family so I have to talk it over with them first and make the right decision.

"They've supported me the whole way and I want to make them proud."

Reading confirmed that midfielder Oliver Norwood had been named in the Northern Ireland squad for their friendly with Qatar.

Burnley have opened talks with Michael Duff regarding a new deal.

The relegated Clarets are set to offer the 37-year old defender a new 12-month contract after he impressed in the Premier League this season.

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