Belfast Telegraph

Paul Smyth's strike could be start of a great international career, says Oliver Norwood

 

By Oliver Norwood

What a fairytale for young Paul Smyth coming in and scoring the winner on his Northern Ireland debut.

It was great for Paul and great for the team when he scored. He brings a freshness to the group.

Earlier this season when Fulham played against QPR, I noticed when he came on he played without fear which is fantastic and it was the same against South Korea.

There was no other thought in his head other than getting on the pitch, playing with energy and putting people under pressure and it was brilliant to see.

Hopefully he can carry on and really step up now and have a successful international career.

I hope he continues to play without fear and doesn't lose that. The first time I noticed Paul was when he was called into a Euro 2016 finals training squad.

He was brilliant - he brought a real energy to training. I think that helped him bed in this time, coming in and doing that with us and getting to know the lads.

You wouldn't find a more welcoming group of people, from staff to players.

It's good to see new faces coming in as it gives our manager options and a depth to the squad, which is what we need.

Against South Korea we were missing Davo (Steven Davis) and a few others so that gave others a chance to play and we got a win which starts the year on a positive note.

Credit to South Korea, they are a very good team and move the ball well and they're going to the World Cup, so for us to beat them is something positive.

We showed good character to come from behind and it was great to score from a set-piece we had worked on with coach Austin MacPhee in training.

He comes up with different set-pieces and we were actually having a laugh about it before the free-kick.

We said 'shall we do it?' It was something we worked on and he deserves credit because he works hard on coming up with these ideas.

Sometimes they come off, sometimes they don't, but it's nice if he gets a little bit of credit coming up with it.

We went through it once or twice in training and maybe sometimes Michael thinks he's seen enough!

Austin insists on trying different things and when it comes off, it looks great.

All in all it was a great start to the international year for Northern Ireland.

Belfast Telegraph

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