Sheffield Wednesday: Owls striker Caolan Lavery misses out on Northern Ireland debut

Owls' Caolan Lavery
Owls' Caolan Lavery
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It was an imaginary toss of the coin that denied Caolan Lavery the opportunity to win his first international cap as the Sheffield Wednesday forward’s first matchday experience in the Northern Ireland senior set-up came solely from the bench.

Lavery was one of just a few players who didn’t get a run out during his country’s 1-1 draw with Qatar in a friendly at Crewe Alexandra’s Gresty Road - Doncaster Rovers’ Luke McCullough was another - but Northern Ireland boss Michael O’Neill admitted the Owls frontman did come close to making an appearance.

Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill during the International match at Gresty Road, Crewe

Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill during the International match at Gresty Road, Crewe

As it turned out, O’Neill, in the end plumped for Ross County striker Liam Boyce who finished the Scottish Premier League campaign with seven goals in seven games.

Still, it won’t have been a wasted few days.

Since meeting up with the Northern Ireland squad Lavery was given the chance to see how the other half live as they used Manchester City’s impressive brand new multi-million pound training facility as their base as O’Neill’s team prepares for their upcoming Euro 2016 qualifier against group leaders Romania at Windsor Park.

O’Neill would have preferred to have given all of his squad some time on the pitch in a match which saw Brentford’s Stuart Dallas give Northern Ireland a first half lead before Karim Boudiaf levelled for Qatar, but he was limited to six and some were left kicking their heels on the sidelines this time around.

Northern Ireland's Stuart Dallas (centre) celebrates scoring his side's first goal of the game with teammates during the International match at Gresty Road, Crewe

Northern Ireland's Stuart Dallas (centre) celebrates scoring his side's first goal of the game with teammates during the International match at Gresty Road, Crewe

As far as Lavery is concerned though, O’Neill remains impressed having watched him in the past for Northern Ireland’s under 21s and while playing for Sheffield Wednesday towards the end of the season.

“Caolan is a player we have had in before - I have seen him play for the 21s, he’s been in the under 21s squad for the best part of a couple of years and it was pleasing to see him get back into the Sheffield Wednesday team at the end of the season given the injury he had,” said the Northern Ireland manager.

“He is a young player still - you are looking at a player who has maybe had this year less than ten first team (starts) behind him, so its a case of bringing him in, seeing how he adapts to it.

“We were limited a little bit in terms of our substitutions - it was probably a toss of a coin between him and Liam Boyce to see who went on.

Northern Ireland fans cheer on their side in the stands during the International match at Gresty Road, Crewe

Northern Ireland fans cheer on their side in the stands during the International match at Gresty Road, Crewe

“I just felt it was a chance for me to look at Boyce.”

Lavery will remain with the squad as they head back across the Irish Sea to Dublin for a behind-closed-doors match with the Republic of Ireland at the Aviva Stadium on Thursday.

For more news from Hillsborough click here