Belfast Telegraph

Togetherness can make NI a hit in France says Lavery

By Steven Beacom

Caolan Lavery is confident that Northern Ireland will make a positive impact at next year's Euro finals.

And the young Sheffield Wednesday striker, currently impressing on loan at Portsmouth, intends doing all he can to be part of it.

The 23-year-old has yet to win his first cap, but was on the bench during the successful qualifying campaign and has a chance of grabbing one of the final seats on the plane.

Lavery said: "Growing up as a kid, you always watch the European Championships and World Cups.

"You hope, believe and pray that one day you can be part of a major tournament like that.

"I have been in the squad for a few qualifiers. Unfortunately, I didn't get to play a part in the qualifying campaign but I have seen how much it means to each and everyone of the players and staff.

"If I can do enough for my club, hopefully I can be a part of it.

"It would be a dream come true but I know it will be difficult. Right now, I am just focusing on my game, doing what I can to help Portsmouth and everything else will take care of itself."

Lavery was born in Canada, before his family moved to Northern Ireland when he was a kid. Articulate and grounded, he has a wise head on young shoulders.

"The fans have really got behind the team and Michael O'Neill has got everyone playing for each other," he said.

"It is good for the young kids growing up in Northern Ireland as they realise they have got something to look forward to if they want to push on and play international football.

"A lot of players have switched from Northern Ireland to the Republic of Ireland in the last decade because they didn't think there was a chance of them playing in a major tournament so I think this can only be a good thing for the association.

"It will be interesting to see who we get in the group and then it will be down to Michael O'Neill and the rest of the staff to get a game plan together.

"We deserve to be going and the group of players that have qualified are all playing good level football.

"They might not be the world class players Spain and Germany have but the work ethic, togetherness that they have can take them a long way."

Belfast Telegraph