Corry Evans, who has started only two Carabao Cup games for Blackburn this season, will captain Northern Ireland in tonight’s friendly against Luxembourg, his first opportunity to lead them out at Windsor Park.
“I’m delighted,” the 29-year-old said. “I captained the team out in Bosnia for my 50th cap but it will be nice to do it at Windsor this time.
“It’s a great honour to represent your country but to be captain is right up there.”
Boss Michael O’Neill said the captaincy was a fitting reward for Evans’ work-rate and attitude for the national team in the course of earning his 53 caps to date.
“Corry’s been a great player for me,” he said. “Sometimes we need someone to do a specific job and generally that’s Corry, and that’s where he’s been fantastic for me.
“Sometimes he’s missed out on games where he’s maybe deserved to play but there’s never an issue, he just gets on with it, it’s a testament to his career how many caps he has.”
Evans is among the more senior members of the side now given the loss of experience from the side in recent years. But O’Neill is confident there is no loss of leadership in the group, with many of the younger players quick to establish themselves both on the pitch and in the dressing room.
“A number of young players have quite quickly become influential,” O’Neill said. “We don’t want players to wait until they’ve got 50 caps before they feel they can do that.
“In particular Jamal (Lewis), Bailey (Peacock-Farrell), Jordan Jones they’ve come in and been lively and had an influence off the pitch as well.”