Belfast Telegraph

Liam Boyce eager to help Northern Ireland achieve World Cup dream

By Laure James

Liam Boyce confesses he's still desperate to play a part in Northern Ireland's World Cup qualifying campaign following his cameo against Croatia.

The Ross County striker earned a rare start in the 3-0 friendly defeat, and was tasked with leading the line against Ante Cacic's men.

Boyce was, by his own admission, beaten in the pace stakes and couldn't find his greatly coveted first international goal, yet was content with his performance overall.

"It was just good to get back out there," said the former Cliftonville hero. "It wasn't the best result but I thought I actually did okay.

"I was close to a couple of chances, a couple flashed across the face of goal and I know had I got there a little earlier I could have scored, but I was happy with the performance. I just didn't get the goal I wanted.

"I thought we did well apart from conceding a few sloppy goals, but it's a friendly and we are just looking forward to Norway, which is such a big game for us."

The 25-year-old had hoped he would earn a cap against San Marino in October after scoring six times in six games in Scotland, but he hobbled off against St Johnstone with a knee injury and was subsequently ruled out.

Yet top dog Michael O'Neill reassured Boyce he had put in an admirable shift against strong opposition on Tuesday night.

"It feels good to be back in the squad again, Michael said well done to me after and that he was happy I played well," continued Boyce.

"Chances like this don't come very often and as Michael said, when I get the chance I need to take it and that's true for all of us.

"Conor McLaughlin got his big chance last year and he has taken it. He's been in the squad and hopefully I have done enough to get another call back in.

"You just have to show Michael he can put his trust in you, that he can throw you into big games and you can keep doing it against any opposition, so hopefully I can just keep training hard and get to where I need to be."

Boyce added, however, that being part of the squad goes a long way to easing the disappointment of not always being on the pitch.

"It's always great to be in the squad as here you're training with seriously top quality players, which is only going to bring your game on," he added.

"Learning wee things from other players is good for me to improve."

Belfast Telegraph


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