Belfast Telegraph

I'm in the form of my life and ready to rock the World: Boyce

By Graham Luney

Liam Boyce says he's in the best form of his life and he's hungry to help fire Northern Ireland to the 2018 World Cup finals in Russia.

The former Cliftonville hero has been on fire for Ross County this season and he's brimming with confidence going into tomorrow's Windsor Park friendly with New Zealand and the crucial World Cup qualifier against Azerbaijan in Baku on June 10.

With Jamie Ward, Will Grigg and Conor Washington missing and Kyle Lafferty starved of competitive action, the 26-year-old now believes this is his time on the international stage.

"Of course I'm more determined than ever," said Boyce, who was the Scottish Premiership's top marksman last season with 23 goals.

"The World Cup is coming up and I want to be part of the team and try and help get there. The only way I'm going to do that is by scoring a lot of goals. There's players playing at a higher level doing it so I know I've got to do everything I can to try and get minutes on the pitch.

"I definitely feel this is the best form I've been in. Towards the end of the season I scored a lot of goals and even here in training now I feel better and more involved."

Boyce added: "It's not that you don't deserve to be here, obviously you're getting picked because you're playing well, (but) you feel more involved with everyone else and your confidence is high and you can try things you'd probably shy away from another time."

Boyce could be handed a starting role against New Zealand and it would be a fitting reward for a phenomenal season that now sees clubs in Scotland and England scrambling for his signature.

"It would be brilliant, that's what I've always wanted," he said. "I've been in squads and in with a chance of getting on. I started against Croatia, you want to be playing against the best, competing with them.

"After the season I've had I just want to carry on and keep scoring goals and keep that confidence up."

Boyce, who made his Northern Ireland debut against Scotland in February 2011 and now has eight caps, was overlooked for the Euro 2016 finals in France as Grigg got the nod.

"That second half of the season, I was expecting it," added the Belfast man. "Going away to a big tournament you need your best players in your best form. I sort of knew Griggsy deserved it more. He scored a ridiculous amount of goals after Christmas.

"I had my daughter (Scout) as well so it helped me in that way.

"I actually had my daughter on the day of the first game so I was sitting watching it in the hospital on my iPad, then I had to go into the labour ward. It made it a bit easier."

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