Belfast Telegraph

Sanchez must go for Gary: Nixon

By Graham Luney

Glentoran defender Colin Nixon has pleaded with Lawrie Sanchez to unleash Gary Hamilton on the Wales defence in February.

Nixon has backed his manager Paul Millar's view that the former Blackburn Rovers trainee deserves another chance to sparkle on the international stage.

Hamilton, who netted his 21st goal of the season against Linfield in the 1-1 stalemate at Windsor Park on Boxing Day, is displaying the same red hot form which earned him a place in Sammy McIlroy's squad close to three and a half years ago.

As Sanchez prepares to finalise his squad for the Nationwide International against Wales at Windsor Park on February 6, he has been warned not to overlook the finishing prowess of the former Portadown hotshot.

"He's got the class you associate with an international striker and hopefully he'll get a chance at that level again - he has certainly earned it," said Nixon who played for his country at under-21 level.

"I think he can get back into the international side - why not? He is playing at the top of his game for Glentoran, one of the biggest clubs in Northern Ireland so what more can he do?

"I'd love to see him play for Northern Ireland because I know he deserves to be in the squad.

"I'm not the man who picks the team but I do think Gary has done enough to break into the international side again.

"We'll just have to wait and see if he gets the call."

Sanchez has handed Hamilton four of his five caps, the last of which was a 0-0 draw with Switzerland in Zurich in August, 2004.

Millar has also called on the Northern Ireland boss to reward Hamilton with an international recall.

"It's not for me to tell Lawrie Sanchez who he should pick, but I do feel that if an international recall does come Gary's way he definitely deserves it," he said.

Hamilton, who made his debut for Northern Ireland against Italy in 2003, served up another reminder on Boxing Day that he is the man who can blast Glentoran to Gibson Cup glory.

"He's having a great season and is in fantastic form," added Nixon. "It was great to see him score another vital goal for us in a Big Two game and I'm sure he was thrilled. He took his goal very well, as we expect him to as he's a top striker. His goal tally is incredible - there's no doubt he has done very well for us and we are delighted to have a player of that calibre on board."

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