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Michael McGovern impresses Michael O'Neill on first Northern Ireland start


Michael McGovern

Michael McGovern

Brian Little

Michael McGovern

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 substitute in a 1-0 defeat to Chile in Santiago.

The 30-year-old from Fermanagh was included in the starting line-up by Michael O'Neill for the Hampden Park friendly on Wednesday, 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, said: "Hopefully I impressed Michael and showed I am comfortable playing at this level because obviously I hadn't started a game before.

"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," McGovern added.

"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."

Meanwhile Ben Reeves, who played against Scotland on Wednesday, has been forced to withdraw from the Northern Ireland squad for the crucial Finland game due to a calf injury.

Kyle Lafferty, Niall McGinn and Corry Evans were rested for the match in Glasgow due to minor injuries.

Belfast Telegraph