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O'Neill puts faith in McNair

Michael O'Neill is set to put his faith in Manchester United teenager Paddy McNair as Northern Ireland look to continue their stunning start to the Euro 2016 qualifying campaign in Romania.

McNair has been called up to the Northern Ireland senior squad for the first time and could start in Bucharest with fellow defender Aaron Hughes struggling for fitness and United team-mate Jonny Evans ruled out.

O'Neill hailed McNair's rise to prominence this season and said his performance in Sunday's Manchester derby underlined his ability to cope at the highest level.

The Northern Ireland manager said: "Paddy basically came from obscurity to United's first team and he has coped brilliantly.

"We have known about Paddy for a long time. In many ways he has been fast-tracked but he has shown he has the qualities to perform at that level.

"I would have no issues with putting him in the side if we needed to because he was able to cope coming into the Manchester derby on Sunday with no problems."

O'Neill can see no reason why his side should not go from strength to strength after three wins from their first three games lifted them to the top of Group F.

An excellent opening win in Hungary was followed by back-to-back successes against the Faroe Islands and Greece last month.

But he warned his side should only be judged on their ability to maintain their form for the duration of the campaign and book a place at their first major finals since the 1986 World Cup.

O'Neill added: "Winning three games out of three is an achievement of sorts - it is only a real achievement if we get something at the end of it.

"We feel we can go to Romania and get a result in exactly the way we did in Hungary and Greece.

"Nine points from the first three games is more than we could have expected, especially with two away games, so anything in Romania is a bonus.

"We wanted to be in a position to compete and regardless of what we do in Romania, we will be in a position to compete."

O'Neill has named both Hughes and Derby striker Jamie Ward in his squad despite both suffering injuries which puts their respective participation in doubt.

Hughes picked up an ankle knock playing for Brighton at the weekend and O'Neill said: "The situation with Aaron is on-going.

"He will have a scan today and things will be much more clear after that.

"He will be given as long as possible but I would expect him to meet up with the squad next week unless the scan shows something more serious."

McNair's team-mate Evans is still ruled out as he fights to regain full fitness following injury while Newcastle's Shane Ferguson is also out with medial ligament damage.

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