Belfast Telegraph

I'll prove I'm ready to lead the frontline for Northern Ireland: Boyce

 

Front man: Liam Boyce eager to prove his worth for NI
Front man: Liam Boyce eager to prove his worth for NI

By Graham Luney

Former Cliftonville hero Liam Boyce feels he's ready to rock for Northern Ireland.

The 28-year-old, who scored 14 goals in all competitions for Burton Albion last season, is arguably the striker in Michael O'Neill's squad who can say he's enjoyed the most prolific season.

With 18 caps to his name, Boyce's only goal for Northern Ireland came just over two years ago in June 2017 when he scored in a friendly with New Zealand at Windsor Park.

But after a strong finish to the League One season, the former Ross County frontman says he's hungry to deliver for Northern Ireland in the Euro 2020 qualifiers in Estonia on Saturday and Belarus on Tuesday.

"I've probably played the most out of all the strikers in the squad so far," Boyce said.

"Big Josh (Magennis) has been scoring goals as well and he's obviously playing at a higher level than me in the Championship.

"But because I scored the five goals at the end of the season I suppose you could say I'm in form.

"When you play more you have that little bit more match sharpness. But I need to show Michael O'Neill what I can do in the training sessions leading up to the game.

"He always says that when you join up with the international squad it's your chance to come in and show what you can do."

Boyce featured in the late win over Belarus, coming on for Lafferty with eleven minutes left.

"It's brilliant to be involved, especially with such important games coming up," he added.

"And for me it's just good to carry on the season. Towards the end of the campaign (with Burton Albion) I was starting to score goals again and when it's like that you really don't want the season to stop. 

"Hopefully we can keep the momentum going by getting two good results and we can look forward to the games later in the year."

Meanwhile, Burton are not planning any immediate contract talks with Boyce over extending his deal this summer - but boss Nigel Clough says they will address the situation at the end of the transfer window.

Boyce, Albion's joint top scorer alongside Lucas Akins this season, has one year left on his current deal, which he signed to become Burton's club-record signing in June 2017.

He was the subject of interest and bids from Bolton Wanderers last year, but Albion held onto him at that point.

"No, not at the moment," said Clough when asked about Boyce talks.

"We'll just see what happens over the summer and see what happens from there."

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