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McGovern pleased with star display

Michael McGovern includes patience as one of his virtues and it brought its own reward with a long-awaited first start for Northern Ireland against Scotland.

The Hamilton goalkeeper had waited almost five years for another chance at international level after making his debut under Nigel Worthington in May 2010 as a second-half substitute in a 1-0 defeat to Chile in Santiago.

The 30-year-old was included in the starting line-up by Michael O'Neill for the Hampden Park friendly on Wednesday night, and his man-of-the match display kept the Scots at bay until he was eventually beaten by a late Christophe Berra header.

McGovern expects regular number one Roy Carroll to return between the sticks for the Euro qualifier against Finland at Windsor Park on Sunday but was happy to give O'Neill some "food for thought".

The former Northern Ireland Under-21 keeper, who started his career at Celtic before starring for Ross County and Falkirk, said: "All I can do is do my best and hopefully I impressed Michael and showed I am quite comfortable playing at this level because obviously I hadn't started a game before, I just came on as a substitute a few years ago.

"It was a good night personally and there were a lot of positives for the team as well although I was obviously disappointed to concede the late goal.

"Hopefully I gave him food for thought but obviously I know big Roy is number one and there's not much I can do about it at this moment as he has been different class.

"It is very difficult (to oust the incumbent keeper), you have to be patient and I feel like I have been.

"I am quite a patient guy so that puts me in good stead.

"I have been in this position before at club level so I will keep working hard and hopefully the rewards will come."

McGovern believes the Hampden run-out was beneficial ahead of the crucial qualifier against Finland where the Irish will look to continue their fine start to the campaign.

With fine away wins away in Hungary and Greece, O'Neill's side are one point behind Group F leaders Romania after four games.

McGovern said: "The Scotland game was good for the guys in our team who haven't been playing too regularly for their clubs and it was good for the younger boys as well.

"This Sunday is going to be massive for us. It is going to be one of the biggest games we have had in years.

"If we could get a win it would really set us up for the rest of the games."

Defender Ben Reeves has been forced to pull out of the squad to face Finland due to a calf injury, it was announced on Thursday evening.


From Belfast Telegraph