Belfast Telegraph

Class act Liam Boyce is thirsty for more goals


By Adam McKendry

After a remarkable season with Scottish club Ross County, Northern Ireland striker Liam Boyce says he's eager to carry his form over onto the international stage.

Fresh off a brilliant season with the Staggies, where he scored 23 goals across the Scottish Premiership season, the 26-year-old finally netted his first goal for his country against New Zealand in last night's 1-0 friendly win.

It was a fine finish too, the former Cliftonville sharpshooter latching onto a fifth minute through ball from the equally impressive Josh Magennis, before turning Kiwi defender Tom Doyle inside out and firing home.

His first goal in his ninth appearance for Michael O'Neill's side, in only his second start, and proof that his club form can be replicated at a higher level.

"I've had a great year and I just wanted to cap it off with that goal, especially at Windsor in front of all our fans," Boyce said.

"I'm confident now I've scored my first goal and now I want to score lots more."

And the Belfast man says, while he wasn't worried about it, he's relieved that he managed to score in the green of his country.

"When you're a striker and you haven't scored in a couple of games you start to think about it but thankfully it's come quick," he smiles.

"I've had a few sub appearances, and this is just my second start, and when I score I usually score for a couple of games so hopefully that continues!"

With Kyle Lafferty badly short on match fitness, Conor Washington away getting married and Will Grigg out injured, it opened the door for Boyce to lead the line, and could do so again against Azerbaijan next Saturday.

He linked up well with Magennis, who was also in fine form up front, and the pair chased down every ball as they looked like a very potent and threatening forward pair, something Boyce says he's not surprised at.

"We've been playing together in training. We're both big and we work well together," he explained.

"He's a great player, he has a lot of pace and can do all the stuff I can't, and I can do all the stuff he can't so we work well. Hopefully we can take that into next week," Boyce said.

Next week is indeed a big game, a victory in Baku against the resilient Azerbaijan side would put Northern Ireland in the driving seat for second place in World Cup qualifying Group C.

With games still to come against San Marino and at home to the Czech Republic, a win next Saturday would set them up perfectly to take a crack at a second consecutive major tournament through the play-offs.

"We'll be ready," Boyce added. "It's all about executing on the plan."

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