Belfast Telegraph

Top player Paddy McNair has all the attributes to star in the Premier League, says Michael O'Neill

Northern Ireland's Paddy McNair scoring his second goal past Czech Republic's Jifi Pavlenka during Monday evenings International Friendly at the Generali Arena, Prague. Photo by William Cherry/Presseye
Northern Ireland's Paddy McNair scoring his second goal past Czech Republic's Jifi Pavlenka during Monday evenings International Friendly at the Generali Arena, Prague. Photo by William Cherry/Presseye
Paddy McNair looked like a seasoned goalscorer as he netted a brace (Petr David Josek/AP)

By Paul Ferguson in Prague

A proud Michael O'Neill believes Paddy McNair is displaying all the attributes needed to be a Premier League footballer again.

He hailed the contribution of McNair after the Middlesbrough man's two terrific first-half goals helped seal a morale-boosting away friendly win over the Czech Republic in Prague.

The Northern Ireland manager, who this year has deployed McNair in his favourite midfield role, believes the 24-year-old former Manchester United youngster is making up for lost time following a couple of years of injury hell.

McNair scored the winner in Belarus last June, and two last night, but his displays, even in defeats to Germany and the Netherlands, caught the eye.

O'Neill said: "He had an excellent game, he had an excellent game in Rotterdam as well but it was a different job we asked of him.

"Two goals, strong running from midfield, it was a great finish for the first one and the second one shows his power, pace and composure. He's still a relatively young player and is possibly now where he should have been two years ago if it wasn't for injury.

“He had a serious injury at Sunderland and it took him longer to get back than possibly he would have liked.

“He’s had a difficult season last season at Middlesbrough where he wasn’t an automatic player but this season that has changed, his club situation has changed and we’re seeing the benefit of that.

“I think we played a big part in the turn around of his fortunes at club level because he was still an important player for us but I’m delighted because he’s a great boy, a great athletic player, a top player.

"When you look at what is required now to play at the highest level, whether it be the Premier League or international football, Paddy has all the attributes."

PA

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