Belfast Telegraph

Michael McGovern: Northen Ireland players must shine at their clubs now

By Steven Beacom

Goalkeeper Michael McGovern says the incentive is great for Northern Ireland's international heroes to now deliver big performances at club level.

Fermanagh man McGovern showed his worth to manager Michael O'Neill in the second half of the successful Euro 2016 qualifying campaign and is intent on keeping his form going for Hamilton in the Scottish Premiership.

He believes his Northern Ireland team-mates will be keen to impress the boss even when they aren't playing for him.

"The Euro finals are like a carrot at the back of your mind, something to focus on, but you have to play well for your club, first and foremost," said McGovern.

"If you're not playing well for your club then there's not going to be as much chance of you playing for your national team.

"It's a great thing to have in the background, something to work towards, something to focus on whilst playing for your club. We'll get the opportunity of four or five friendlies ahead of the Euros and we'll try to do well then too because everybody wants to be starting in the Euros. Competition for places is going to be extremely high."

McGovern added that finishing top of Group F ahead of Romania and Hungary showed just how worthy Northern Ireland were in terms of qualification for next year's finals in France.

He said: "Although the European Championship has gone up to 24 teams, no one can say we just got in because it opened up - we got in because we were good enough," he said.

"We would have got in had it still only been 16 teams. No one can hold that against us.

"It's an unbelievable achievement, magnificent, you could rhyme off so many adjectives - it's unreal.

"Everyone has put so much effort into this campaign and it is fantastic to end it with such a reward."

Belfast Telegraph