Belfast Telegraph

Committed Magennis will contribute any way he can to benefit the team

By Stuart McKinley

Josh Magennis has more stamps on his passport than he has international caps.

For five years, he has travelled across Europe and further afield with the Northern Ireland squad, many times without seeing any action on the pitch.

Like every player he wants to play, but the Kilmarnock man is loving every minute of his international career, despite only starting once in 12 appearances.

And he is more than happy to keep clocking up the air miles as long as the final destination is France next June as the 25-year-old can look at the bigger picture as Northern Ireland try to make history by reaching the European Championship finals for the first time.

"It can be tough for players who are on the fringes," said Magennis, who has regularly been used as a second-half replacement for Kyle Lafferty during the Euro 2016 qualifying campaign.

"The team that the manager has put out in this campaign has been near enough faultless.

"You can't get away from the fact that only 11 players can start and you can only select a certain number to go on the pitch - even from that number the manager may not use them all, depending on what he sees.

"We all have a greater understanding outside of our own selfish means.

"Even though we are all individuals in a team sport we realise that if we want to get anywhere as a team there can't be any jealousy or disputes.

"For me it's a fantastic experience getting to come away every single trip.

"I'm used to watching some of the players on Match of the Day or The Championship, but it's great being able to call them your team-mates and more importantly, your friends - and even more important than that, being able to learn from them and engage in conversation about football and being able to better your own game."

The role of being Lafferty's deputy may not be one that everyone would be willing to sign up for.

Magennis is comfortable with his role though and knows that manager Michael O'Neill appreciates his contribution, even if it's not simply about scoring goals and he is ready to do whatever is asked of him come the clash with the Faroe Islands tomorrow night.

"It's about getting your head in the right place," said Magennis.

"You've got to be prepared to go on whenever you're called upon.

"I am expected to go on and replace Kyle, I am always going to do my best for the team and if that's to help keep a clean sheet or maintain a lead then that's what need to be done.

"I don't want to be doing mad things, kamikaze shooting from all angles trying to get one up on Kyle, because that's not the way it works.

"It's a team game and whatever Michael tells me to do on the sideline before I go on that's what I am going to try to do from minute one when I go on the pitch."

The artificial surface, the modest surroundings compared to many international stadiums across Europe and even the remoteness of the country itself are all things that work in favour of the Faroe Islands team.

Greece have already succumbed twice in this campaign and Magennis is determined that Northern Ireland won't be another statistic.

"We can't disrespect the Faroes and think that it is going to be an easy game," he continued.

"Going there, they are used to the conditions and we aren't so it's got the potential to be a banana skin if you are not mentally right.

"We are making sure everything is done in moderation and making sure that everything is done to give us the best chance of winning.

"It's about replicating everything we have done and keeping the momentum going and that feel good factor in the camp.

"We believe and trust in each other and we believe we can get there."

Belfast Telegraph