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Prolific Boyce forces his way into O'Neill's World Cup plans

 

By Graham Luney

Michael O'Neill believes Ross County frontman Liam Boyce can deliver at a higher level - and he admits the former Cliftonville favourite is pushing hard for a bigger role in the Northern Ireland side.

Boyce (right) has netted 21 goals for the Staggies this season and O'Neill admits the 26-year-old is more firmly in his thoughts for the friendly at home to New Zealand on June 2 and the World Cup qualifier in Azerbaijan eight days later.

"He will come in with us and we will see how he is but he is certainly knocking on the door and he's in my thoughts all the time," said O'Neill.

"I do believe he can play at a higher level. He's a bit like a Gareth McAuley in a different position. It's three years since I took Liam to South America when he was out of contract with Cliftonville and one of the reasons why I did that is because if I included him it may help his case to get into the professional game.

"There is a huge amount of interest in him, not only in Scotland but England as well, and this has been his best campaign because he has been strong all season."

Meanwhile, O'Neill dismissed talk of an approach from Norwich City over the Canaries position, saying: "Norwich have gone down a different structure. They are looking for a head coach as opposed to a manager. Having been a manager all my days I see myself as being a manager, and my focus, as it has been for the last five years, is to continue in this role and do everything we possibly can to get to Russia.

"There has been no official approach to the Irish FA and it's not something I am thinking about."

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