Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 30 July 2014

Northern Ireland comes first: Grant

Grant McCann knows the timing of tomorrow’s friendly against Italy is far from ideal, but he is ready to leap into the lion’s den.

With his international career now firmly back on track, McCann is looking forward to the future with optimism and he is not prepared to take that cherished green shirt for granted.

The Scunthorpe United midfielder is one of the more experienced heads in Nigel Worthington’s squad and he is happy to take that added responsibility on his shoulders.

McCann almost missed out on a place in the squad though, as he was in Belfast earlier this week taking his UEFA A Licence coaching course, but was given permission by the Irish FA to leave early and complete the work at a later date.

“I am not sure that playing a friendly at this time of year is necessarily a good thing, seeing as so many regular senior players have holidays booked and have been unable to come,” he admitted.

“However, I always said that Northern Ireland comes first. If my country comes calling, then it takes priority. I don’t think it is a bad thing having players from the Irish League in the squad either.

“Nigel phoned me before the squad was announced, and I said that it may interfere with my coaching course, but he made special arrangements to ensure that I do not miss any of my training.”

McCann, who helped fire his side into the Championship, is also thrilled for the Burnley lads Michael Duff and Martin Paterson who can look forward to Premier League football next season.

“Knowing that we have about six Northern Ireland players back in the Premier League is great for the country,” he added.

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