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McCalmont should be shining example for Under-21s wanting to make it at elite level, claims Crosby

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Game time: Alfie McCalmont has shone for loan side Oldham this season

Game time: Alfie McCalmont has shone for loan side Oldham this season

William Cherry/Presseye

Game time: Alfie McCalmont has shone for loan side Oldham this season

Northern Ireland Under-21 caretaker manager Andy Crosby wants his young stars to follow the example of midfielder Alfie McCalmont and play more first team football to develop their game.

Leeds United ace McCalmont (21) is on loan with Oldham this season and has shone for the League Two outfit, scoring some magical goals.

Crosby was content that McCalmont, already capped at senior level, stayed with his club to play games rather than join the Under-21 training camp last month.

"I've seen Alfie a lot this season. His game is developing," says Crosby.

"He's been scoring good goals and is delighted with the amount of games he is clocking up. It's been a different environment for him and a different challenge. He is learning valuable lessons.

"It's up to this Under-21 group to push towards the senior squad by getting more experience at their clubs and first team football, which will allow them to develop."

Crosby is hoping that his squad can play friendlies in June before their Euro qualifiers begin in September.

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Having taken temporary charge of the Under-21s last year when Ian Baraclough was promoted to the senior role, Crosby is in line to land the job on a more permanent basis. It is understood interviews for the post will take place later this year.

He said: "I took over from Ian for the last five games of the last campaign and I have really enjoyed the role.

"I'm still here as caretaker manager and I don't know what the future is going to be.

"Before Ian came in, the Northern Ireland Under-21 record was nothing short of abysmal. It was something like one win in 24 games.

"Now it's 10 wins in 22 and we have only been beaten by more than one goal on three occasions, so we are very competitive and have a way of playing and an identity.

"We have good technical players and have to give them belief and trust they can compete against any nation.

"I'm here to try and help these guys get better."


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