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Oliver Norwood won't reverse his decision to quit Northern Ireland, says boss Baraclough

 

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Sheffield United midfielder Oliver Norwood has told Ian Baraclough he is not going to return to the Northern Ireland squad.

Sheffield United midfielder Oliver Norwood has told Ian Baraclough he is not going to return to the Northern Ireland squad.

Sheffield United midfielder Oliver Norwood has told Ian Baraclough he is not going to return to the Northern Ireland squad.

Oliver Norwood has informed Northern Ireland manager Ian Baraclough that he is sticking with his decision to retire from international football.

Baraclough revealed that he recently spoke with the Sheffield United captain in the hope that he would change his mind after quitting the international scene last year, but 29-year-old Norwood told the new Northern Ireland boss he wanted to focus on his club career and family.

Despite the midfielder's stance, Baraclough insists he will not close the door and will ask him again in the future about a possible return.

Norwood announced 11 months ago that at 28 he was walking away from Northern Ireland having won 57 caps and played in the Euro 2016 finals. At the time, then manager Michael O'Neill declared the player was making a mistake.

When Baraclough was appointed as O'Neill's successor last month, he stated he would make a call to the former Brighton and Fulham ace, who has enjoyed an impressive first season in the Premier League with the Blades.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, Baraclough said: "I had a good conversation with Olly and he is comfortable with the decision he made.

"We spoke about several things as to why he might have finished, and he felt as though he was going back to his clubs tired and wasn't doing himself justice after internationals. That's maybe his thoughts behind why clubs like Brighton and Fulham let him go after getting up to the Premier League.

"He is having a great season with Sheffield United and I fully respect his decision because he has a young family and he felt as though he needed that time when internationals come around to recharge his batteries and spend time with his family and enjoy that time.

"It is a fine balance between choosing to play for your country, which he has done with distinction over 50 times, or spending more time with his family and concentrating on his club football."

Baraclough added: “I am disappointed but I fully respect his decision.

“I did say to Olly, ‘You may have played in a Euros but you have never played in a World Cup finals, so I will still be ringing you and asking if it is the same in a year’s time’. I can’t close the door on anybody.”

Born in Burnley, Norwood, who qualifies for Northern Ireland through his grandfather, made his first senior appearance in 2010 having previously featured for the Under-21 and Under-19 sides.

Meanwhile, Baraclough will speak with IFA chief executive Patrick Nelson and Elite Performance Director Jim Magilton about the now vacant role of Northern Ireland Under-17 and Under-19 boss following Stephen Frail’s decision to leave the roles to take up an assistant manager’s post at Dundee United.

As Under-21 supremo, Baraclough worked closely with Frail and said: “Stevie phoned me over the weekend to tell me there was interest because he felt it was the right thing to do and he felt it was a project he couldn’t turn down.

“He was in place when I first came into the set-up three years ago. I brought him into the Under-21 coaching set-up when the 19s or 17s weren’t working at the same time. He came out to a game in Estonia and a couple of training camps and has been a great help. That link between 19s and 21s is key with the natural progression of things and Stevie played his part in that.

“We wish him all the best going to Dundee United which is an exciting project in itself.”

Northern Ireland are due to host the Under-19 European Championship finals later this year, with Baraclough saying it will be “an exciting prospect” for whoever takes over.

Belfast Telegraph