Belfast Telegraph

Paddy McNair's Best days ahead for NI and United

By Steven Beacom

Paddy McNair is determined to build on his welcome return to action in Manchester United's vital Premier League victory over Watford.

The 20-year-old defender came off the bench on Saturday in the second-half during a 2-1 win for Louis van Gaal's men and with injuries mounting for the Red Devils, the Northern Ireland youngster could be in line to make a few more appearances in the weeks ahead.

How the boy from Ballyclare would love to feature in tomorrow night's Champions League clash against PSV Eindhoven at Old Trafford given that the United fans will be marking the 10th anniversary of the passing of their most famous and gifted Northern Ireland star - the one and only George Best.

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Whether McNair, who suffered an abdominal injury last month playing for his country against Finland in the final Group F Euro 2016 qualifier, is involved or not in what promises to be an emotional occasion, the feeling at United is that he has a bright future.

Impressed Spaniard Juan Mata said: "We have very talented players in the academy, some players who have played with us for example. I really like Paddy McNair, his quality as a defender is something quite special."

High praise indeed for McNair who played 16 times in the league last season. Following his 21 minutes at Watford, he has now made two league appearances this term. There will be more to come which is good news for Michael O'Neill - the more players he has performing at a high level prior to next year's Euro finals, the better.

Hughes facing more time on sidelines in Melbourne

Just when Aaron Hughes hoped and thought he would enjoy a run of games for new team Melbourne City, a niggling calf injury has ruled him out for another fortnight.

Earlier this month, Hughes recovered from his calf problem to make his A-League debut in Australia, only for the Northern Ireland hero to come off at half-time.

The experienced Hughes, who is in manager Michael O'Neill's plans for the Euro 2016 finals, missed Friday's 1-1 draw with Brisbane Roar and faces two more weeks on the sidelines.

Melbourne City head coach John van't Schip said: "Aaron Hughes got injured in the game against Western Sydney and is out for two to three weeks."

Belfast Telegraph