Belfast Telegraph

Michael O'Neill tips Blues ace Lavery to make cross-channel return

 

Shayne Lavery
Shayne Lavery

By Steven Beacom

Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill insists new Linfield striker Shayne Lavery has the qualities to play in England or Scotland again.

Lavery (20) had been at Everton from 2015 before signing a one year deal with the Windsor Park outfit in the summer. He has made an instant impression and was man of the match in a goalscoring display in his team's 3-2 victory over FK Sutjeska in midweek taking them through to the Europa League play-off round.

The young Lurgan-born forward, who has earned one senior international cap, was on loan at Forfar last season and O'Neill is convinced the ex-Glenavon ace has what it takes to become a big hit across the water.

"Shayne's had a difficult time because he probably stayed at Everton too long," said O'Neill.

"He hasn't played a lot of club football in the last few years and had one or two injuries so the most important thing for Shayne is that he is at a club where he will play.

"Shayne should be playing in full-time football in England or Scotland.

"He's good enough to do that but Linfield is a good place for him to be at now.

"He just has to continue to perform, put the disappointment of coming back from Everton behind him and look at this as the next phase of his career and I'm sure he will go on and progress." On a potential international call up for Lavery, O'Neill said: "It's very difficult for a domestic player to come up and play senior international football now.

"The game has moved on so much and the level is so much higher.

"He has great attributes and is almost like the perfect Northern Ireland centre forward once he grows a wee bit.

"He works very hard and he has an eye for a goal and he gets goals out of nothing which is a real asset to have. The most impressive thing about Shayne is his physicality and pace and he terrified the defenders the other night.

"Those are the types of games you might see Shayne at his best. In domestic games where Linfield are dominant and there's not that much space it might not be as easy for him.

"The good thing is Shayne is in the best team here.

"Linfield are the best Irish League team I've seen, physical fitness wise, for some years."

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