DEFENDER Nicky Hunt is urging his Rotherham United team-mate Michael O’Connor to rediscover top form to earn an international recall.
The Northern Ireland ace has not featured for his country since winning his 10th cap in a 1-1 draw with Morocco nearly two years ago. Six of O’Connor’s Ireland appearances have come as a substitute.
The 25-year-old, who penned a two-year with the Millers in the summer, has produced a series of impressive performances in the middle of the park since departing Scunthorpe United, hitting four goals in 11 starts, prompting Ireland to put him on their stand-by list for their recent World Cup qualifiers.
But like Hunt, O’Connor’s form has dipped in recent weeks and he has not figured since their drubbing at home to Southend United. He has been an unused substitute in Rotherham’s last three fixtures as they have climbed up to fifth in the League Two standings following a run of three wins on the bounce.
Nonetheless, Hunt believes O’Connor possesses the ability to force his way back into international contention.
“Michael is a really good player and lad,” he told The Star. “He came back from an injury at the end of last season and he needed games to find his form. He is a great asset for us with his goals and his passing range.
“There are a lot of players looking to play internationally but I don’t see why he shouldn’t be in the squad.”
Asked whether O’Connor may be overlooked by Northern Ireland because he plays in the bottom tier of the Football League, Hunt, who may be recalled this weekend following Dale Tonge’s injury setback, replied: “If you are playing well for your club, that is all you can do. Everything else is a bonus.
“I experienced it at England Under-21 level a few years ago. If you play well for your club, you do get noticed.”
Both Hunt and O’Connor were given run-outs in the reserves 1-1 draw with Mansfield Town yesterday. Mark Bradley opened the scoring.
Rotherham chairman Tony Stewart will be appearing alongside manager Steve Evans tonight at the New York Stadium at an “FA Cup Preview” evening. The event, hosted by MW Entertainment, gets underway at 7pm and comes just days before the Millers first round tie with Stevenage. Entertainment includes a meal, raffle memorabilia and photo opportunities with the pair.
Tickets cost £25 and tables of 10 are available for £200, a £5 saving per person on the individual price. For more information, visit www.mwentertainments.co.uk or ring 07841 358467.