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Conor McMenamin deserves his Northern Ireland call-up, but timing of Nations League games is madness: Mick McDermott


Glentoran ace Conor McMenamin could make his international debut

Glentoran ace Conor McMenamin could make his international debut

©INPHO/Presseye/Brian Little

Glentoran ace Conor McMenamin could make his international debut

Glentoran boss Mick McDermott has hailed Conor McMenamin after his international call-up, but slammed the timing of the upcoming Nations League games as “madness”.

McMenamin was named in Ian Baraclough’s latest Northern Ireland squad at the end of an outstanding season from the Downpatrick man, who was previously with Cliftonville, Linfield and Warrenpoint Town.

His club manager had nothing but praise for the 26-year-old but, like Baraclough, questioned the timing of four international games at the end of a long season to accommodate the World Cup Finals in Qatar later this year.

“I know the Irish FA doesn’t pick the dates for these games, they have just been told to get on with it and play the games,” McDermott said.

“But whoever chose the timing of the games clearly has no idea about player welfare, and some of the senior players must be scratching their heads asking, ‘Why?’ Northern Ireland have a limited squad compared to other nations, who can manage a bigger pool of players much easier, so it will be hard on the players.

“I’m delighted for Conor getting his call-up. It’s brilliant for him, brilliant for the League, brilliant for our club and brilliant for other players, because it shows they have a chance if they perform well enough.

“I know it’s not the first time an Irish League player has been called up to the international squad, it happened in the 1980s, but in the modern era it is harder to make that breakthrough.

“Shayne Lavery was called up while he was playing locally but it was easier for him because he was still a very young player.

“When you’re 26 and playing in the Irish League, it’s harder to be picked so it’s a brave call from the manager.

“But he is undoubtedly a quality player with plenty of attributes; pace, athleticism, he’s quick, he’s direct, he’s durable and he can play on the left or the right.

“Northern Ireland invariably play a 3-5-2 system, so where does Conor fit in? Well, he is also a very versatile player who played at left-back for Warrenpoint, so he can tuck in and play a wing-back role if required. He is very adaptable.”

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