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Liam Boyce striving to impress Northern Ireland boss Michael O'Neill ahead of play-off mission


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New surroundings: Liam Boyce

New surroundings: Liam Boyce

PA

New surroundings: Liam Boyce

Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill was on hand to help Liam Boyce settle in his new city with dinner and advice.

Now Boyce hopes his flying start in Edinburgh with Hearts can give O'Neill plenty of food for thought ahead of the Euro 2020 play-off against Bosnia and Herzegovina on March 26.

The 28-year-old has scored two goals in his first two matches for Hearts since moving from Burton, and he is looking to continue that start as Stoke boss O'Neill keeps an eye on the form of Sunderland's Kyle Lafferty and Will Grigg, along with Hull forward Josh Magennis.

Boyce, speaking ahead of tonight's Tynecastle clash with Kilmarnock, said: "At Northern Ireland, if you are playing and scoring then you know you are going to be in and about it.

"But it's when you get there, you need to be training well and show you can step up to that level. We have a lot of players - Laff has moved and is playing, Josh is in the Championship and Conor Washington is here. You need to keep playing and scoring.

"Coming here, I have been scoring, and Michael lives in Edinburgh so I think he will be watching a couple of matches.

"So, if anything, it's an even better opportunity because I can show him what I can do.

"I met him after the Rangers game and had something to eat with him. When I was coming up he was telling me about the nice places to live and good schools for my daughter. It was brilliant."

Former Cliftonvillle hero Boyce, who had scored 14 times in 33 games for Burton this season, joined Hearts on a three-and-a-half-year deal last month.

The Belfast man also believes he can continue to thrive in his new strike pairing with Hearts captain Steven Naismith.

Boyce added: "I like playing with my back to goal, getting flicked balls and one touch round the corner, that's how I take advantage of defenders. But when you have someone who is as smart as he is and can flick it into me and play one-twos, it causes other teams problems."

Belfast Telegraph