New call-up Conor McLaughlin hoping to earn play-off joy with Fleetwood

Conor McLaughlin
Conor McLaughlin

Not even the thought of taking on the likes of Edinson Cavani and Alexis Sanchez is proving a distraction for Conor McLaughlin.

And after he was once casually jettisoned by a former manager, it is little wonder the Belfast boy takes things game by game.

McLaughlin steps out at Wembley on Monday determined to help Fleetwood Town to League One with play-off glory.

If he succeeds, there would hardly be any time for celebration after he was called up to Northern Ireland’s squad for their South American tour.

But the thought of helping Uruguay and Chile’s stars prepare for the World Cup is at the very back of his mind.

“I’m over the moon to be called up to the senior squad,” said the 22-year-old, whose younger brother Ryan – who is on Liverpool’s books – is also in manager Michael O’Neill’s party.

“I won’t have much time to celebrate but I will be looking at the positive side and to get a call-up by your country is unbelievable.

“It’s massive. To be playing against some of the best players in the world, I can’t wait for that. But the game on Monday is of paramount importance at the minute.

“That game on Monday is a lot more important at the moment and I will be concentrating on that.”

McLaughlin was seemingly heading for big things after breaking into the first team at Preston North End – then along came Graham Westley.

He rapidly decided he did not want a group of players, so much so he made them train at a gym some 20 miles away from where their team-mates were training.

For some it may have resulted in the wrecking of a promising career but McLaughlin is made of much sterner stuff.

“It comes with football,” he said about his time working out at a gym in Rossendale with not a chance of proving Westley wrong.

“Some managers will be having you and some won’t so you just have to get your head down, work hard and believe in yourself.

“We just got on with the job, got our heads down and worked hard because we knew that if other clubs wanted to take us we had to be fit at the time.”