Belfast Telegraph

Brazilian star Kaka is all set to welcome Northern Ireland's Martin Paterson

Russia with love: Northern Ireland’s Martin Paterson pictured against Russia
Russia with love: Northern Ireland’s Martin Paterson pictured against Russia

By Stuart McKinley

Northern Ireland striker Martin Paterson is heading across the Atlantic in a bid to revive his injury-plagued career.

And as well as stealing a march on USA-bound Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard, a Brazilian superstar is preparing to welcome him when he gets there.

'Pato' has been in talks with Florida-based Orlando City, who will join the USA's Major League Soccer when the season kicks off in March and is expected to sign a contract within the next couple of days before joining his team mates at their pre-season training camp, which starts next Friday.

Orlando have already completed one major piece of business ahead of their inaugural campaign, with former Real Madrid and AC Milan star Kaka joining the club just before Christmas and the excitement is starting to build in the Sunshine State.

It is understood that Paterson flew out to the USA yesterday to complete the formalities on the deal after Orlando conducted discussions with both the player and his club, Huddersfield Town.

Paterson's contract with the Terriers runs out at the end of the season, but with injuries restricting him to just 25 appearances since signing from Burnley 18 months ago the club are now prepared to allow him to move on.

Orlando's move from the North American Soccer League to the MLS has been four years in the planning and they are hoping for a full house of 61,000 for their opening game against fellow newcomers New York City on March 8.

In an ironic twist Orlando are a sister club of Stoke City, where Paterson started his career as a schoolboy.

They are also managed by a familiar face in ex-Everton striker Adrian Heath, who himself played for Stoke in his teens, before joining the Toffees.

As well as having Kaka as a team mate, former Bradford City goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts is also on the Orlando roster, as is Heath's son Harrison.

Previously Paterson was a £1m player at just 21-years-old, when he moved from Scunthorpe United to Burnley.

He helped the Clarets gain promotion to the Premier League in his first season with 19 goals, but his single campaign in the top flight was wrecked by a knee injury which kept him out for three months.

Paterson's career is a tale of one injury after another. During the two seasons following Burnley's relegation from the Premier League he played only 25 times.

He had hoped for a clear run after joining Huddersfield in the summer of 2013, but such was his frustration at not being able to get back into the team after injury last season that he joined Bristol City on loan, playing eight games and scoring once. He has been restricted to just three appearances for Huddersfield this season after picking up an injury in pre-season and even a loan spell with Fleetwood Town ended early when he was sidelined again.

His injury problems have also restricted Paterson to just 22 international appearances since making his debut as a substitute against Spain in November 2007.

The highlight of Paterson's international career came when he scored the only goal in the World Cup qualifier win over Russia in August 2013 - Michael O'Neill's first win in charge of Northern Ireland - and he was denied another goal in the second half when his finish was ruled out by the referee.

He followed that up with another goal against Luxembourg a month later, but he hasn't appeared for Northern Ireland since being withdrawn at half time in a friendly against Cyprus in March last year.

Moving to the United States shouldn't harm Paterson's chances of adding to his 22 international caps. Manager O'Neill called up Jonny Steele while he was with New York Red Bulls. He is now back in America with Minnesota after a spell in Australia.

Meanwhile Northern Ireland under-21 international Cameron McGeehan has joined League Two outfit Cambridge United - who host Manchester United in the FA Cup next week - on loan.

The Norwich City midfielder has signed on for five weeks, with the option of that being extended.

McGeehan made 18 appearances for Luton Town last season, helping them to win promotion from the Conference, but has yet to make a first-team appearance for Norwich.

Belfast Telegraph


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