Nigel Clough fears Northern Ireland ambitions could cause Liam Boyce to leave Burton
Northern Ireland striker Liam Boyce could be on the move this summer, his club boss Nigel Clough has admitted.
The former Cliftonville star, who celebrates his 28th birthday today, netted his ninth League One goal of the season in Saturday's 3-1 victory over Barnsley.
But with the club 10th in the table and 10 points off the play-off places, Clough is already coming to terms with the fact an exit may be on the cards.
Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill started Boyce in Northern Ireland's last three matches of 2018, against Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Republic of Ireland and Austria, but his only involvement in last month's opening Euro 2020 qualifying double header was the final 11 minutes of the 2-1 win over Belarus.
Kyle Lafferty started both games but was hauled off twice with Josh Magennis impressing in his stead and even netting the late winner against Belarus.
With the starting berth for a central striker up for grabs, a step up to Championship level would help Boyce press his case.
"He's got a year left on his contract and I think for his international aspirations he has always wanted to play in the Championship," says Clough.
"I would think there will be interest in him because he's a good player, a good striker, and despite a dip around Christmas time, he is in double figures.
"He has proved on his day, against some of the better teams in our Cup run what a good player he is."
Boyce's 81st minute goal relieved the tension at the Pirelli Stadium on Saturday, edging his side into the lead.
It marked only Boyce's third league goal of 2019 but it was because of an earlier missed chance that it brought real relief.
"I was running through and it was bouncing, I took a good first touch and it was sitting perfectly the whole way up, it was bouncing perfectly just to catch it on the half-volley with my laces," he said about the spurned opportunity.
"Just at the last second, it came into my head that I'm going to chip it - and that's when I already had my head down to hit the ball hard. It's just one of those things, I'll know not to do it again.
"The gaffer actually hates people chipping it, so I don't know where it's come from. If we hadn't won the game, he'd have gone mental at me, so I know not to do it again and probably never will!
"The way I am, I was just thinking I need to get another chance, I owe everybody else in the team a goal, and the fans, the way I messed that last one up. I just knew I had to get in and get another goal any way it came - and thankfully it did."