Martin Paterson vows to bounce back from his injury woe
Forgotten man Martin Paterson has revealed his desire and determination to return to the Northern Ireland squad and help Michael O’Neill’s men qualify for the Euro 2016 finals.
The 28-year-old striker has just returned to English football at League One side Blackpool after a short spell in America with MLS outfit Orlando City.
And one of his prime targets is to win back his international place, perhaps even in time for next month’s crucial Euro 2016 qualifier at home to Greece, when Kyle Lafferty will be suspended.
Paterson, hit by injury problems, has not played for Northern Ireland since a friendly against Cyprus in March 2014, but the former Burnley ace, who scored the decisive goal against Fabio Capello’s Russia in a World Cup qualifier at Windsor Park two years ago to earn O’Neill his first victory as international boss, is desperate to pull on the green shirt again.
Paterson, who has 22 caps, said: “Getting back into the international squad would be a feather in my cap if I achieve it — and I’m hell bent on doing that.
“With the bad luck I’ve had with injury over the past year, I haven’t been in the squad, but Michael knows that if I’m fully fit I can be a good addition to it.”
With two group games left - Greece at Windsor and Finland away - Northern Ireland are just one win or two draws away from qualifying for next year's finals in France.
Paterson may not have been involved in the campaign so far, but that hasn't stopped him keeping an eye on the team's progress.
"There's games left to guarantee a place, but I can't take any credit as I've not played in any," said the ex-Stoke and Huddersfield forward.
"But with people suspended and people out, there's opportunities for others to come in and I think I'm one of the people to do that."
Paterson, who has scored three goals for Northern Ireland, was a team-mate of Brazilian superstar Kaka during his time at Orlando which was ruined by a knee injury, restricting him to just four appearances during five months in the MLS.
"It was great," he said of his time in Florida. "It just didn't happen for me out there. I went into a tackle and did my knee, but I'm a strong character mentally and I'm ready to bounce back.
"And this year I want to prove people who may doubt me wrong at Blackpool."
Paterson could make his debut for his new side against Barnsley today.