Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland hero David Healy has helped my flying start at Linfield, says Shayne Lavery

Top man: Shayne Lavery receives his Player of the Month prize from Keith Bailie of the NIFWA committee
Top man: Shayne Lavery receives his Player of the Month prize from Keith Bailie of the NIFWA committee

By Graham Luney

Shayne Lavery says he's in no hurry to get back into full-time football - and that's music to the ears of David Healy.

The Linfield boss said yesterday that he has no intention of allowing the 20-year-old to leave the Blues this season, and Lavery admits he's settled in an environment where his game can continue to develop.

Speaking at Northern Ireland's training base near Stormont yesterday, the former Everton youngster says he's focused on fulfilling his potential.

Although he gave Azerbaijan giants Qarabag the shivers in the Europa League play-off that ultimately ended in disappointment, Lavery remains very much a work in progress and the exciting reality is that the best is yet to come from this precocious talent.

There will inevitably be speculation that the powerful forward could be on the move in January, with no shortage of admirers in England or Scotland, but the man himself is not searching for the exit door at Windsor Park.

"I'm not thinking about moving on in January or next summer, I'm taking it game by game," said Lavery, whose impressive early-season form has earned him the Player of the Month award for August from Northern Ireland Football Writers.

"It's a great honour for me and I'm very happy about it," added Lavery. "Especially with the European run, I feel like my game is adapting well to being back home and the training with David has really helped.

"He does a lot of work with the strikers and I've enjoyed it so far.

"The European run was a great achievement and a little disappointing at the end to go out on away goals.

"The team wasn't expected to get that far though so it was a great achievement.

"I just remember being completely wrecked after the Qarabag games.

"It was nice to get the two goals and reach the play-off against quality opposition.

"I think the goal I scored at Windsor is my best one to date."

Healy wasn't the only manager impressed with Lavery's heroics. Northern Ireland chief Michael O'Neill has rewarded him with a call-up to the senior panel for the home friendly against Luxembourg tomorrow and Monday's Euro 2020 Group C showdown with Germany at Windsor Park.

"And now I find myself back in the Northern Ireland squad," said a beaming Lavery.

"I'd got the call for the Under-21s and then Paul Smyth got injured so got called into the senior squad.

"I wouldn't say I was disappointed not to be included in the original squad as I thought I would be with the Under-21s.

"I was just happy enough to get the call and it's a huge boost to me."

Healy admitted he was surprised to net Lavery in the summer when a loan move to Falkirk failed to reignite his career.

"Shayne has been exceptional," said the Blues boss.

"I knew what sort of a lad we were bringing to the club and how good a player he is.

"I was surprised that we did get him, I'm surprised he didn't get playing much on loan at Falkirk.

"From working with Shayne at youth level I knew he had the attributes to be a full-time footballer and he still has them.

"Linfield have given him the exposure and platform which he has relished.

"He will eventually leave the football club, but not yet - not this season. Only when he is ready to leave.

"I've spoken to Shayne and his management and, when the time is right, we will shake hands and wish him well in a full-time environment in England or Scotland."

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