Michael McGovern won’t rush decision over Northern Ireland future after Slovakia defeat

Michael McGovern believes it is too soon for any Northern Ireland players to be considering their international futures in the wake of their Euro 2020 disappointment.

Sunday, 15th November 2020, 3:04 pm
Northern Ireland's Michael McGovern.

Thursday’s 2-1 extra-time defeat to Slovakia at Windsor Park ended Northern Ireland’s dreams of qualifying for consecutive European Championships.

Questions followed as to whether this might be the end of an era for a golden generation of players given that Steven Davis is 35, Niall McGinn and Kyle Lafferty both 33 and Jonny Evans 32.

But McGovern, himself 36, said nothing had been discussed inside the camp.

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“The other night was a difficult game and it was bitterly disappointing to lose,” the Norwich goalkeeper said. “That’s been our feelings since, we’ve just been speaking about the game and nothing else.

“In terms of the future of people, I don’t think this is a good time to speak about that. Emotions are running high. When you’re talking about those type of things, it needs to be done when you’re calm with a dispassionate mindset.”

McGovern admitted the sting of Thursday’s defeat was worse than the disappointment of missing out on the 2018 World Cup, when Northern Ireland controversially lost a qualifying play-off to Switzerland across two legs.

“I think this one was worse,” he said. “The Swiss double-header was a longer process. The other night, we expected to win the game, we thought we had a very good chance. We’d prepared as well as we have done for any game.

“On the night we played really well and deserved to bring it to penalty kicks at least. To be so close to another major tournament and not to do it is hard to get your head around.”

The players have had little time to process it as they are immediately back in action, facing Austria on Sunday night and Romania on Wednesday in the Nations League before they look to refocus on the World Cup qualifying campaign to come next year.

“It’s always important to put in a good performance, to get a win and lift spirits,” McGovern said.

“We’re professionals. We want to go out and put in a performance. It won’t make the other night better but now we’re looking forward to World Cup qualifying.

“These are the last two games before then and we want to finish the Nations League with strong results to set us up for the games in March.”