Belfast Telegraph

Michael O'Neill's call on Joe Gormley must be respected: Tommy Breslin

By Graham Luney

Tommy Breslin says he would love to see Joe Gormley receive a call from Michael O'Neill but he's not prepared to question the Northern Ireland manager's squad selections.

The Cliftonville hotshot has failed to make the travelling party for the games against Uruguay in Montevideo on May 30 and Chile in Valparaiso on June 4 despite netting a club record 37 goals in the Danske Bank Premiership last season.

O'Neill's squad has been decimated by withdrawals – the latest being Derby striker Jamie Ward – but the former Shamrock Rovers boss has deemed the 24-year-old Ardoyne man surplus to requirements.

Reds boss Breslin said: "I'd love to see Joe and Liam (Boyce) get international recognition because there is the prospect of the boys becoming much better players with the experience.

"However, we must recognise that it (international football) is a big step up from the Irish League and we must respect Michael's view that he wants to look at the talent he has in the full-time game.

"In previous years Glenn Ferguson and Gary Hamilton had a lot more experience than Joe at Irish League level when they gained international caps.

"They were at the top of their game and at the moment Michael wants to be surrounded by players who he believes can help him in the European qualifiers.

"And anyway Joe doesn't travel anywhere! There'll be hassle getting him on the bus to Institute never mind to South America!" joked Breslin.

The Reds boss is also playing a waiting game over Liam Boyce with rumours swirling around that Linfield are chasing the striker.

"We want to know where we stand with Liam, hopefully before the end of this month as we need to start planning for Europe," he added. "I'd be surprised if Linfield weren't very interested in a player of his quality but we have offered him what we believe is a good deal. The fans idolise him here, he won two league titles in a row and you could only conclude that money would be a deciding factor for him to join another Irish League club as it's not full-time football."

O'Neill, like Breslin, has his own squad concerns to address.

Jamie Ward, whose Rams side take on QPR in the Sky Bet Championship play-off final at Wembley on Saturday, feels it is "not in his best interests or the interests of the international squad for him to travel to South America due to his extended club season", the Irish FA said in a statement.

Fleetwood right-back Conor McLaughlin has been called up and will join up with the national squad after Monday's League Two play-off final against Southend. McLaughlin's call-up has been welcomed by Fleetwood boss Graham Alexander.

"It's thoroughly deserved. He's had a great season so far. He has one more game to do for us before he relaxes and goes to be an international," Alexander said.

* Northern Ireland's clash with Uruguay will be broadcast live by BBC Northern Ireland on the Red Button and via the BBC Sport NI website.

The friendly will be live from the Estadio Centenario in the Uruguayan capital Montevideo at 11:30pm on Friday, May 30.

Michael McNamee will be joined on commentary by Chris Morgan.

* Goalkeeper Aaron Shanahan, who helped Ballymena United reach the Irish Cup final, has left the club.

Shanahan arrived at the Showgrounds on a short-term deal following injuries to Stuart Addis and Dwayne Nelson and impressed in the second half of the campaign before tasting defeat in the showpiece final against Glenavon.

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