Belfast Telegraph

Will Grigg is back in the frame for Northern Ireland spot, says ex international

By Jonathan Liew

Will Grigg could be handed the chance to resurrect his Northern Ireland career after shattering Manchester City's quadruple dream, according to Pat McGibbon.

The former Northern Ireland international, who made 210 appearances for Wigan from 1997 to 2002, was thrilled to see his old club perform heroics at the DW Stadium.

Grigg hailed his 79th-minute winner against the runaway Premier League leaders as possibly the best moment of his career and, while Wigan are now looking forward to an FA Cup quarter-final clash at home to Southampton next month, the 26-year-old could be drafted back into Michael O'Neill's Northern Ireland squad for the friendly against South Korea at Windsor Park on March 24.

Born in Solihull, West Midlands, Grigg - who qualifies to play for Northern Ireland through his grandfather - hasn't been in the squad since November 2016 and remains upset that he failed to play a single minute in his first major tournament at Euro 2016.

But, as the song goes, he's on fire again and his well-taken strike against City was his 16th of the season in all competitions and seventh in the FA Cup, with three of those having come against Premier League sides West Ham and Bournemouth in the previous two rounds.

Lurgan man McGibbon, who won seven Northern Ireland caps, now believes O'Neill will find it difficult to overlook the man who also scored twice for MK Dons in a famous League Cup win over Manchester United in 2014.

"It was a great performance and great result for Wigan," said the former defender, who left Manchester United to join Wigan, where he reached a play-off final against Gillingham and also won the Auto Windscreen Shield against Millwall at Wembley in front of 70,000.

"They had a few great results already in the FA Cup but very few people expected them to beat Manchester City.

"Will Grigg is clearly still on fire and it's great to see he's now leading goalscorer in the FA Cup.

"I follow my old clubs closely including Wigan and Grigg's performances have caught my attention more because of his Northern Ireland connection.

"It's a hard one for us to judge what Michael should or should not do because we don't know what their relationship is like or how the training goes. It's Michael's team and he looks for a certain type of player. Unless you can see everything that goes on on a day-to-day basis in the international set-up, you are left guessing why Will has not played as much for Northern Ireland.

"But anyone who is performing this well at club level is sure to attract Michael's attention. His confidence is high, he is scoring goals and when you are knocking Manchester City out of the FA Cup and in prolific form, an international recall must be a possibility.

"Will, like many other players, will be in Michael's thinking and his goals will put him in the shop window at club level too. It was a real tidy finish against City and with finishing like that he is sure to stay in Michael's thoughts.

"I will be playing in a Legends game for charity in Ashton, just outside Wigan, in May so I will need to get into shape for that."

Few gave Wigan much hope against a side for whom winning a clean sweep of four trophies was becoming increasingly realistic, but Grigg said: "I've scored against some Premier League teams and had some brilliant nights, a lot of promotions.

"But in terms of one single night, this is probably the best, against probably the best team in Europe at the moment. They've been flying. It's going to be difficult to top that and for me to get the goal was very special."

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