Conor McLaughlin: Northern Ireland full-back retires because of injury

Northern Ireland defender Conor McLaughlin
McLaughlin was released by Sunderland last summer and then had a brief second spell at Fleetwood Town

Northern Ireland defender Conor McLaughlin has announced that he has been forced to retire from football because of injury.

The Belfast-born player's most recent club stint was a short-term deal at Fleetwood Town which ended in January.

He earned 43 Northern Ireland caps and played for his country at Euro 2016.

"Unfortunately after 12 years as a professional footballer, I've been medically retired due to injury," McLaughlin, 30, wrote on Twitter.external-link

"The last 18 months or so has been an extremely difficult time both physically and mentally."

McLaughlin was released by Sunderland last summer after struggling to make a full recovery following hernia surgery before linking up with Fleetwood for a second time in October.

After playing as a youth for Linfield, McLaughlin moved to Preston North End in 2007 where he went on to make 24 senior appearances before beginning a five-year stint at Fleetwood in 2012.

Separate two-year spells at Millwall and Sunderland followed before he was released by the Black Cats last summer.

"I've been lucky to have had the time I've had in the game and thankful to every club that provided me with an opportunity," he added.

He won his last Northern Ireland cap in a friendly against the USA 13 months ago.

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