Sheffield United: 'If Oliver Norwood still wanted to play for Northern Ireland, that would've been fine by me'
Sheffield United did not influence Oliver Norwood's decision to retire from international football, Chris Wilder has insisted, after the midfielder was accused of making a huge mistake by confirming he no longer wants to be considered for selection by Northern Ireland.
Despite only turning 28 in April, Norwood informed the IFA he was withdrawing his services earlier this week as United's preparations for Saturday's Premier League game against Leicester City began in earnest.
With Michael O'Neill making no attempt to disguise his disappointment - “He had the opportunity to leave an incredible legacy at international level and the potential to reach 100 caps" - Wilder was asked about Norwood's decision at the Steelphalt Academy yesterday.
Although he refused to elaborate on the player's motivations or criticise his counterpart in Belfast, the United manager did acknowledge no one at Bramall Lane had encouraged Norwood to concentrate solely on his club commitments.
"I've talked to Ollie about it," Wilder said. "He's a very experienced player. I can't tell him what to do. He knows what's right for him and what happens to him when he goes away. Michael has had his say and that's fine, of course.
"Ollie came to me and told me. At no times, was any pressure put on him from here. I'm delighted when our players go away and play international football. Ollie is an experienced boy and he knows what he wants."
Earlier this year, Norwood revealed he had been playing through the pain barrier as United closed-in on promotion from the Championship having being diagnosed with a hernia complaint. After undergoing surgery to correct the problem, he missed Northern Ireland's latest round of Euro 2020 qualifiers before starting the opening two matches of the new campaign. Norwood won the last of his 57 caps against Bosnia and Herzegovina in October.
With England chief Gareth Southgate watching United's win over Crystal Palace on Sunday, Wilder added: "I've no problem if people go away. I'm expecting the likes of Oli McBurnie to push on now (with Scotland), and (the Republic of Ireland's) Callum (Robinson) too. Dean (Henderson) has been involved at under-21 set-up. If you talk to him, his ambition is to push on with England."