Belfast Telegraph

Paterson to get behind new mates

By Stuart McKinley

Martin Paterson could end up as Northern Ireland's number one fan on Saturday night.

The Scunthorpe United striker won a first senior call-up for the climax to the Euro 2008 qualifying campaign after netting seven times so far this season.

Nigel Worthington is unlikely to throw the inexperienced 20-year-old into such a big game as the clash with Denmark, but Paterson insists he will be ready if his chance comes along at some stage during the 90 minutes.

If not, he will cheer his new squad mates on in the hope that they can force their way into the European Championship finals.

"Everyone wants to play," said Paterson.

"I understand that the players who have been in the squad have done really well up to here and if you're not in the team or not selected you've got to support the people who are there and be part of the team that way.

"When you are called upon at any time you have got to be ready.

" All you can do is try your best and I always do that.

"I've been lucky that I have been in a hard working team at Scunthorpe and they produce chances. I am probably the lazy one who stays in the box really.

"My confidence is high after scoring goals in the Championship, but I understand that this is a step-up for me and I have got so much improving to do in my game and so much to learn and I can't be too confident at this level because I have yet to play at it."

The Stoke-born hitman started his career with his hometown club before joining Scunthorpe in the summer and Paterson goes back to his Grandparents to find his Northern Ireland link, through the Londonderry-born Grandfather who recently passed away - not living long enough to see his Grandson wear the green shirt.

"It's brilliant to be part of the squad for the first time," he said.

"It is an honour to be called-up for your country and I feel very lucky to be here this early in the season and really glad.

"I never really thought that I would have a chance of being in the squad. I thought I had a lot more to do and there needed to be a lot more improvement in my game to get to this level, but I have been called this early,

" I am only 20 and I am very proud, but I know that I have a lot more to do to be in further squads."

And Paterson is well aware that the game against Denmark and next week's trip to Spain are Northern Ireland's biggest games in over 20 years.

"It's a very exciting time for Northern Ireland and a very crucial time," he said.

"It's good to be in the squad at this time. I feel excited and it's good to play football when there is something at stake."

Belfast Telegraph


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