NORTHERN IRELAND: Gavin Whyte has right stuff for Michael O’Neill

Crusaders' Gavin Whyte. Pic by INPHO.
Crusaders' Gavin Whyte. Pic by INPHO.

Gavin Whyte could extend a season to remember into the most important summer of his career following a first senior selection by Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill.

With domestic delight still fresh in his mind thanks to Crusaders’ title glory, Whyte is facing up to a decisive few weeks for club and country.

Interest from clubs such as Leeds United, Burnley and Crawley Town could hand Whyte a dream path into professional football alongside international experience during Northern Ireland’s forthcoming trip to take on Panama and Costa Rica.

“This season he has been exceptional,” said O’Neill. “I was really impressed by his performances with Northern Ireland under 21s.

“He’s on the verge of, hopefully, moving to England and, hopefully, his inclusion here helps that.

“Also, should he get that opportunity to go into full-time football he’s equipped to hit the ground running.

“Gavin has the capability to make a real impact if given the chance.

“It is vital for him to get that move, you cannot be a sustained international player but part-time.

“He has to get into full-time football, it is the same as Liam Boyce or Stuart Dallas, anyone from an Irish League background.

“We can help and nurture them to get into that environment then it is about what they can do once in it.

“For the players back here in Northern Ireland we want them to realise that the opportunity is there but they have to get out of that mentality of being a Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday player and towards thinking full-time.”