Caolan Lavery has been challenged to become a key figure for Northern Ireland after receiving an international call-up for their up-and-coming matches against Qatar and Romania.
As revealed by The Star on Tuesday, the striker, a first-team regular for the Owls at the back end of last season, was included in a 28-man squad by manager Michael O’Neill yesterday.
“Caolan [Lavery] is a player we have known about for a while,” admitted O’Neill. “He played in the first under-21 game that I saw in Macedonia three years ago and we’ve kept an eye on his progress ever since.”
Lavery, who scored five times last season, said he is “delighted” to be selected in the senior squad, claiming it is a “big honour for me”. Now the 22-year-old will be seeking to win his first cap when Northern Ireland face Qatar in a friendly at Crewe’s Gresty Road on May 31. After that clash, O’Neill’s troops take on Romania in a crucial European Championship 2016 qualifier at Windsor Park on June 13.
O’Neill said: “Caolan is only 22 but it is a good opportunity to bring him in and make him feel part of things. Hopefully he will embrace that and show us what he is capable of because I think he has got good attributes.
“Caolan is very quick, strong and has shown he has got a goal in him.
“He could prove to be a really good option for us.”
Caolan is very quick, strong and has shown he has a goal in himNorthern Ireland boss Michael O’Neill
Northern Ireland trail Group F leaders Romania by just one point following a bright start to their qualifying campaign and are in a strong position to qualify for a major finals for the first time since the 1986 World Cup.