Northern Ireland: Paddy McNair set to fulfil boyhood dream
Last updated on .From the section Football
Paddy McNair hopes he can realise his ambition of playing for Northern Ireland in Wednesday's friendly against Scotland at Hampden Park.
The Manchester United defender, 19, is expected to make his debut in the game.
"It would be a dream come true if that happens. It would be a very proud day for me and my family," said McNair.
"As a young boy it is a dream to play for your country," added the Ballyclare lad, who could partner his club team-mate Jonny Evans in central defence.
McNair has been given his first taste of top-team action at Old Trafford by Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal this season.
Now he is set to follow that up by making his international debut in Glasgow when Michael O'Neill's side take on the Scots as preparation for the Euro 2016 qualifier against Finland at Windsor Park.
The 19-year-old was forced to pull out of his first involvement with the national team last October due to injury, while he was an unused substitute a month later as the Northern Irish lost 2-0 away to Romania.
"I went to a few Northern Ireland games when I was very young but I don't remember too much about them. I can remember the atmosphere and hoping that one day I would be out there as well," admitted McNair.
|Northern Ireland's remaining Euro 2016 Group F qualifiers|
|Finland (home)||Sunday, 29 March 2015|
|Romania (home)||Saturday, 13 June 2015|
|Faroe Islands (away)||Friday, 4 September 2015|
|Hungary (home)||Monday, 7 September 2015|
|Greece (home)||Thursday, 8 October 2015|
|Finland (away)||Sunday, 11 October 2015|
While Northern Ireland are just a point off the summit of Group F after taking nine points from the first 12 available, Gordon Strachan's side are very much in the hunt for qualification themselves.
With that in mind, McNair does not expect an easy introduction to the international game.
"It's going to be tough," he said. "It's a game against another home nation and both teams want to win. It won't be a friendly.
"It's a game we can definitely win, though. We showed in the games in the qualifying group we can beat anybody."
In the 13 games McNair has racked up for Van Gaal's side this term, he has done enough to leave the Dutchman so impressed that he reckons the County Antrim teenager could be a mainstay of the United line-up for the next decade.
But McNair himself is trying not to look too far ahead.
"I don't think I will really realise how good a season I have had until the end of the season when I look back at it, but so far I'm very happy," he said.
"Am I surprised at how quickly things have gone this year? Yeah a little bit.
"Sometimes you just need a bit of luck to get your chance. But I was confident that once I got my chance I could take it."