Shayne Lavery in mood to shoot down Germany's big guns
Linfield striker Shayne Lavery would love a shot at Germany in Monday's massive Euro 2020 qualifier at Windsor Park.
Lavery brought his impressive club form to the international arena on Thursday night when he came on as a substitute to win his second senior cap for Northern Ireland in the 1-0 friendly win over Luxembourg.
Whether he is wearing blue or green at present, the 20-year-old is causing problems for defenders with his pace and energy and could be a wildcard off the bench for Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill when the Germans are in Belfast.
Germany will arrive at Windsor smarting from last night's 4-2 loss to the Netherlands in Hamburg. The Dutch are now six points behind group leaders Northern Ireland and only three behind second placed Germany, with a game in hand over both.
Serge Gnabry fired Germany in front but Frenkie de Jong equalised on 59 minutes. A Jonathan Tah own goal edged the Dutch in front but a Toni Kroos penalty in the 73rd minute made it 2-2. The Netherlands, however, had the final say when PSV Eindhoven ace Donyell Malen struck in the 79th minute and Georginio Wijnaldum sealed the win in added time.
"To be involved against Germany would be unbelievable," said the ex-Everton man who was sensational in Linfield's remarkable run to the Europa League play-off round. "It's a bonus for me being with the senior squad and playing 30 minutes against Luxembourg was an even bigger bonus. If I'm not involved against Germany I won't be too disappointed but of course I want to be included.
"You'd have to ask Michael if he thinks I did enough. I just tried my best when I came on and hopefully Michael liked it.
"I try to have the same mindset whether I'm playing for Linfield or Northern Ireland; I try not to get too caught up in the crowd or anything. That can affect your game so I just keep trying to do my thing and hopefully what the manager wants."
Livewire Lavery says the mood in the NI camp ahead of Monday's showdown is positive.
"We've had a great start to the campaign winning our first four group games. I know we haven't played Germany or Holland yet but it's there for us," said the forward. "We are confident we can get a result against Germany. Anything is possible at Windsor Park."
On the game against Luxembourg in which he almost scored and set up a chance for the industrious Jordan Thompson he said: "I really enjoyed it. I did say if I got on I'd run about and the gaffer said to me to just try to nick it off defenders and run in behind and I think I did that.
"When I hit the side-netting I probably should have tried to pull it back towards Gavin (Whyte) or JT (Jordan Thompson) because it was a very tight angle which I just realised when I shot.
"It was pleasing to get a cap at Windsor Park, especially because I play there for Linfield. To get out there in front of the Northern Ireland fans was amazing."
Lavery was all smiles in the interview area after the victory. After a frustrating few years across the water when game time was limited he is loving life.
"I feel like I'm enjoying myself on the pitch. It's great to be back playing football again. I didn't get that across the water but it feels good now," said Lavery.
"I've only been back a few months but I'm enjoying every minute of it."
The Blues ace starred for the Northern Ireland Under-21 side in their last Euro campaign and says O'Neill is motivating young players by using them if they deliver.
"Michael said to the Under-21s we are not that far away from the senior squad and with the likes of Ethan Galbraith and Bobby Burns coming into the senior squad it's nice that he's always looking at the Under-21 players," he said.
"We had a really good campaign last time with Liam Donnelly and Mark Sykes and everyone else. I think the current squad of Under-21 players can be a step up again. Playing in games like this gives you a taste for more. That's why Michael has brought so many players up to show we aren't that far away."