Just as one of Ryan McGivern’s dreams lies shattered, another one is born.
A dismissal on his senior international debut against Scotland at Hampden Park will live long in his memory for all the wrong reasons but yesterday a silver lining appeared on that dark cloud.
Yes, manager Nigel Worthington wants the talented youngster to help Northern Ireland to qualify for the World Cup in 2010 in South Africa and yes, Worthy is in the mood to pick the youngster to shut out Slovakia on Saturday week.
There were fears that the Manchester City starlet would have to serve a suspension following his red card in the friendly Battle of Britain clash but his manager had other ideas.
Not surprisingly, McGivern, who offered a short but effective demonstration of his undoubted potential against the Scots, was close to tears when he left Hampden after his early bath.
Given the amount of pride he must have felt at pulling on his country’s jersey for the first time, he can be forgiven for struggling to contain his emotions.
But a bright international career is ahead of him and Worthington knows it.
“There isn’t a rule which says we cannot play Ryan in our World Cup qualifying fixture,” said the former Norwich City chief.
“There is an acknowledgement that he would have to miss our next friendly game but it would be wrong of me to prolong any agony he must be feeling by leaving him out of this squad.
“He is a player who has come on the Manchester City scene very quickly and his sending off was very harsh. It was a disappointing, cruel blow to him but as far as we are concerned he is available to play for us against Slovakia if selected.”
Worthington now has that headache every manager craves — defenders such as Jonny Evans and McGivern who are knocking loudly on the door, desperate to play. There have even been suggestions that skipper Aaron Hughes’ place in the team could be under threat.
Hughes will play against Slovakia but Worthington has the look of a man who knows his squad has strength in depth in defence and it’s a rare feeling for a Northern Ireland boss.
“If everyone is fit I know what my best starting eleven is,” he added. “But we have to wait and see who is fit to play against Slovakia.
“Jonny (Evans) has a hip injury and I know he will be trying his utmost to make the game. George (McCartney) is back in training and playing reserve team football so hopefully he will be back playing. The 0-0 in Scotland was our first clean sheet in nine games so it gives the players a tremendous boost.
“The big pluses for us was keeping our shape and taking a lot of confidence from the game. We have learned a lot after three weeks of hard work and the plan has been to get the ball up the field quicker to David (Healy).”