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Tuesday 17 October 2017

O'Neill pleased with McNair's midfield audition

Paddy McNair
Paddy McNair

Paddy McNair may have a key role in Northern Ireland's midfield at Euro 2016 after the Manchester United youngster earned his international manager's praise for his performance against Wales.

Michael O'Neill, shorn of injured trio Chris Brunt, Chris Baird and Corry Evans, utilised 20-year-old McNair in a holding berth behind skipper Steven Davis and Oliver Norwood for the 1-1 draw in Cardiff when Northern Ireland extended their unbeaten run to nine games.

McNair's performance was one of the highlights of the night and he had a part to play in the goal that saw the visitors go ahead on the hour mark through Craig Cathcart's finish on the turn.

Five of McNair's nine outings for his club this term have been from the bench and United boss Louis van Gaal has typically selected him in defence, but O'Neill insists he is better placed working in front of the last line.

"I was really pleased with him," the Northern Ireland boss said. "He's just 20, not played a lot of first-team football with Manchester United and typically when he plays for Manchester United he plays at centre-back or sometimes as a full-back but I think that's his best position, where we played him.

"He just needs to get used to playing at this level. I enjoyed him in there in that midfield with Davis and Norwood.

"It was encouraging to see him play as well as he did for as long as he did. Paddy's games in recent weeks would have been development games for United, (so) it's a huge step up."

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