Belfast Telegraph

Euro 2016: Manager Michael O'Neill hands big chance to young players

By Paul Ferguson

Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill is set to give two young Irish League hotshots the opportunity of a lifetime.

On the eve of Northern Ireland's final Euro 2016 warm-up match against Slovakia in a hot and humid Trnava, a relaxed O'Neill revealed he planned to bring two under-21 players from the Danske Bank Premiership with him to France to join in training sessions with his 23-man squad.

O'Neill refused to divulge their identities but is it believed Glenavon winger Joel Cooper, who trained with Northern Ireland at Windsor Park ahead of the Belarus game, and either Crusaders' Gavin Whyte or Linfield's Paul Smyth will meet up with the senior squad when they fly into Lyon tomorrow to set up base camp for the tournament.

"I'll make a decision on that in the next 24 hours but I'm looking to bring in two young players from the Irish League to supplement the squad we already have," said O'Neill, who has Linfield's new signing Roy Carroll in his ranks along with former Irish League stars Alan Mannus, Gareth McAuley, Niall McGinn and Stuart Dallas.

Belfast Telegraph