Belfast Telegraph

Biting Back: Does Paddy McNair have what it takes to start for Northern Ireland?

By Graham Luney

If you didn't know who Paddy McNair was this time last week you certainly know all about him now.

The Ballyclare youngster has just added his name to the long list of Ulstermen who have played for Manchester United's first team.

Injuries to other players, including Northern Ireland international Jonny Evans, allowed Paddy to make his United debut in Saturday's Premier League game against West Ham.

A composed and assured performance represented a stunning and unforgettable introduction to the big time.

After just one game for Louis van Gaal's side, McNair has proved he can handle the big game pressure.

This raises the question if you are good enough to play for Manchester United in a big Premier League game, shouldn't you be good enough to play for Northern Ireland?

Michael O'Neill, you would imagine, will award Paddy with his first senior international call-up when he names his squad tomorrow for the Euro 2016 qualifiers against the Faroe Islands and Greece.

McNair only made his Northern Ireland Under-21 debut earlier this month.

It seems extraordinary that he has only just appeared on the international stage despite showing all his class in Under-21 matches for United.

Why has it taken an injury crisis at Old Trafford to recognise the talents and maturity of this boy?

And how many other gifted young players from Northern Ireland are out there just waiting for a chance to shine?

Belfast Telegraph


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