FOOTBALL: Liam Boyce was steered to Burton by Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill

Northern Ireland's Liam Boyce
7 Northern Ireland's Liam Boyce

Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill says he advised striker Liam Boyce to join Burton rather than Aberdeen, describing the English second tier as “a higher level”.

Boyce was a target for the Dons, who finished second behind Celtic in the Ladbrokes Premiership last season, but opted to join the Brewers instead.

Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill

Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill

And his national team boss O’Neill says he advised the 26-year-old former Ross County player to “take his chance” at a career in England.

“Without being disrespectful, if Liam went to Aberdeen and had another season like the one he’s just had, it’s not as if suddenly Manchester City would be coming in for him,” O’Neill said in quotes reported by the Daily Record.

“So it’s the right time for him for football reasons to go and test himself in the Championship.

“He recognises the strikers that have been playing for our national team have all been playing in the Championship. If he wants to establish himself and progress at international level he needs to be playing at the highest level possible and obviously, without being disrespectful to the SPFL, the Championship is a higher level.

“Liam came to me when we were away on international duty and asked me what I felt would be the best move for his career. I was honest with him.

“He had the option of joining Aberdeen and I think Hearts had also agreed a fee but I told him that, at his age, he had to take the chance of going to England.”