Belfast Telegraph

Shayne Lavery set to get Northern Ireland call-up after another spell-binding Linfield performance

Linfield's Shayne Lavery will be included in Michael O'Neill's next Northern Ireland squad.
Linfield's Shayne Lavery will be included in Michael O'Neill's next Northern Ireland squad.
Gareth Hanna

By Gareth Hanna

Shayne Lavery has earned a recall into the Northern Ireland squad after another spell-binding performance for Linfield.

The former Everton striker netted a brace against Qarabag to take his tally to four goals in seven appearances for the Blues.

As if his night couldn't get any better, it ended with the news that he will be included in Michael O'Neill's panel for the upcoming internationals - a friendly at home to Luxembourg and a Euro 2020 qualifier against the Germans - when it is announced on Wednesday.

Other than former Linfield keeper Roy Carroll, O'Neill has been reticent to hand out call-ups to Irish League players, previously stating a belief that the gulf between the Danske Bank Premiership and international football is simply too big to bridge.

But Shayne Lavery is a special case.

Having seen his awe-inspiring second goal on a magical night at Windsor Park, Michael O'Neill could have offered no other reaction but to bring him into the panel.

Lavery bulled Azerbaijan international Abbas Huseynov out of his way before bamboozling Gara Garayev and curling an unstoppable finish inside the post.

In truth, he's too good for the Irish League. European and international football? That's more like it.

"It was a decent goal," smiled Linfield boss David Healy, downplaying his star asset's exploits after recently tipping the former Everton forward for a move back to England's Premier League.

"Shayne's been a breath of fresh air. I've known Shane since he was 16 or 17 and probably if I hadn't know him or worked with him (with the Irish FA), we would have had no chance of bringing him back here.

"We brought him in to give him a bit of exposure so he could regain his confidence. I always knew how good of a player he was. It surprised me when he went to Falkirk that he didn't get the game-time he went there to get.

"I've been waiting 16 or 18 months on a player like Shane and Shane in particular, who we've been keeping an eye on. We do a lot of homework on some of the younger players who are at clubs in England and Scotland just in case something like Shane's departure from Everton was on the horizon.

"We nipped in first and thankfully he decided to come here because he's not a bad player."

Having made his first two senior Northern Ireland appearances in 2018, there will be plenty more to come for Shayne Lavery.

Michael O'Neill has made special rules for a special talent, too good for the Irish League.

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