Belfast Telegraph

Sheffield United put no pressure on Ollie Norwood over Northern Ireland decision, says boss


Saying farewell: Oliver Norwood
Saying farewell: Oliver Norwood

By Graham Luney

Sheffield United have insisted they aren't to blame for Oliver Norwood's decision to quit international football.

The 28-year-old midfielder made the announcement on Monday, saying he wanted to concentrate on his club career with the Premier League side.

Northern Ireland boss Michael O'Neill expressed his disappointment at the move, saying: "I have no doubt Ollie could have kept playing club and international football for many years."

Blades chief Chris Wilder claimed that no-one at Bramall Lane had encouraged Norwood to concentrate solely on his club commitments.

"I've talked to Ollie about it," Wilder said. "He's a very experienced player. I can't tell him what to do.

"He knows what's right for him and what happens to him when he goes away. Michael has had his say and that's fine, of course.

"Ollie came to me and told me. At no time was any pressure put on him from here.

"I'm delighted when our players go away and play international football. Ollie is an experienced boy and he knows what he wants."

Norwood, who has 57 international caps, has been urged to rethink his decision by Northern Ireland heroes Jim Magilton and David Healy.

"I like Ollie as a person, and he is a good guy, but his decision to retire from international football at 28 beggars belief," said record scorer Healy.

"For me, it is the wrong call. Ollie has had a fine career at international level but he could go on and become a Northern Ireland legend.

"There is a possibility that he could play in two major tournaments like our greats of the '80s, and I don't understand why he is giving up that opportunity."

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