Belfast Telegraph

Norwood won't make a return to the international stage: Wilder

No go: Oliver Norwood walked away from NI duty in August
No go: Oliver Norwood walked away from NI duty in August

By Rory Dollard

Oliver Norwood will be cheering Northern Ireland on in their glamour qualifiers against Holland and Germany but there is no hint of the midfielder reversing his international retirement, according to Sheffield United boss Chris Wilder.

Newly-appointed Stoke manager Michael O'Neill will take charge of his country for what could be his swansong with Northern Ireland placed third in Euro 2020 qualifying behind the Group C heavyweights.

Norwood has been an ever-present during the Blades' eye-catching start to the season, helping them to fifth in the Premier League table.

He will be watching his former international team-mates from afar, though, after prematurely calling time on his Northern Ireland career in August.

At just 28, and with 57 caps to his name, the midfielder is in his prime but even the forthcoming fixtures, or the prospect of a Euro play-off in March, have not forced a change of heart.

"He made that decision before these games came along and he knew what decision he wanted to make; he was adamant and positive about that," said Wilder.

"He is still a big supporter of Northern Ireland football and he'll be delighted if they get some positive results.

"Ollie will be a big cheerleader for them but he's made his decision.

"He wanted to concentrate on this season in the Premier League and he's doing great with the contribution he is making for us. I'm also a big supporter of Northern Irish football because I've known Michael for quite a while.

"I wish Michael all the best and I should imagine, I know, Ollie will too."

St Johnstone's Tommy Wright, NI U21's Ian Baraclough and Stephen Robinson of Motherwell are among those thought to be under consideration by the Irish FA when O'Neill leaves his role.

• Northern Ireland under-19s lost 3-0 to Norway in last night's Under-19 Championship preparation tournament clash at Mourneview Park.

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