Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland boss Michael O'Neill backs Paddy McNair to be Premier League hit

By Laure James

Paddy McNair will be a Premier League success, according to Michael O'Neill.

The new Sunderland recruit has "made the right move" in signing from Manchester United for £5.5m, and the Northern Ireland boss sang his praises to Black Cats and former Red Devils manager David Moyes.

"I spoke with David before he signed him," O'Neill revealed. "I think it's important for him to get a move to play for a manager who knows him.

"Paddy had a lot of interest, but I think he's made the right move. It was always going to be difficult for Paddy with the change in manager at United, a club which spent a lot of money to strengthen in areas which he was going to challenge for a position, so it's important for him to get the opportunity to play."

O'Neill has deployed the 21-year-old, recognised in England as a defender, in central midfield on international duty - a measure which Moyes will replicate.

O'Neill said: "It will take him time to settle and it'll be a big season for Sunderland. But he will predominantly play as a midfielder, and we see him as a central midfielder at international level.

"He's in a good place, the good thing about it was he was determined to go on a permanent basis rather than on loan, and that showed his ambition.

"It's not easy leaving a big club like United, especially if you've been there from a young age, and I think it showed Paddy's attitude and ambition to establish himself in the Premier League and at international level."

Meanwhile, West Brom's £25m price tag for Jonny Evans comes as little surprise to O'Neill, who believes the Arsenal target belongs with a top four club.

"Jonny can play in a top four or top six Premier League club, it doesn't surprise me there's interest," he added. "He was brilliant in France. His ability to play in a back three, at left-back, to switch in and out of systems - he probably had the most to deal with.

"Look at his performances against Andriy Yarmolenko and Gareth Bale, they were fantastic.

"His appearances were curtailed in the last few months through injury and suspension at Old Trafford, so last year was a very important year in Jonny's career."

Belfast Telegraph


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