There is cross-border interest in Ethan McGee, says Dungannon Swifts chief Rodney McAree as he tips full-back to follow in the footsteps of Michael Forbes and Terry Devlin
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The right-back is a man in demand after impressing for the Swifts in a number of positions during his career, including in central midfield.
However, whilst admitting that it is McGee's wish to play full-time football in the future, McAree vowed that he will only be sold if an offer suits all parties involved.
McGee missed the Swifts' victory against Newry City on Saturday after being called-up to the Northern Ireland U21 squad for the very first time.
"No, I'm not surprised by the interest," said McAree.
"Dungannon Swifts have always ended up losing their best players at some stage.
"We find it very hard to hold onto them but Ethan's happy where he is, with his performances and efforts showing that over the course of the season.
"There is interest in him but whether or not we lose him in January will determine on the offer that's made.
"We will look forward to getting Ethan back and it's great to see him get recognition on the international stage as he deserves it.
"He's a talented boy and works tirelessly to improve his own game and his own physical appearance.
"It's good to see him get the opportunity but it's a big plus for us to get him back into the squad.
"I'm not sure about the cross-channel interest.
"There's interest within the League and the League of Ireland.
"He wants to be a full-time footballer and you've got to admire him for that."
McAree worked with both Terry Devlin and Michael Forbes who were called into Michael O'Neill's senior squad for the Euro 2024 qualifiers against Finland and Denmark.
The Swifts chief commented that he sees similar characteristics in all three and believes McGee could also make it in England if given the opportunity.
"Ethan McGee will have seen the likes of Terry Devlin moving from here and getting the opportunity to move to England," he added.
"I do think Ethan has the capability of playing in England but he's got a lot to learn.
"He's a lot he can improve on but he's only a kid.
"He just needs to listen at times and take information on board.
"Terry's such a good lad and he's similar to Ethan and Michael Forbes as the attitude of those three boys is second to none.
"They've a drive that they want to become better, they've a drive that they want to do well and that's great to see."
With transfer fees and wages at an all-time high in Irish League football, McAree acknowledged the importance of Dungannon continuing to produce players from their successful Academy to help bridge that gap.
He continued: "We always feel that we produce good players with the youth set-up.
"We've got a good pathway and we try to educate kids the right way.
"It's about development and giving them opportunities when they're coming through.
"Granted, they have to deserve and be good enough to get their opportunity.
"Whenever you're in the position we are in in terms of budget, you have to rely on getting kids through and trying to produce our own players.
"If we don't produce our own players, we are going to find it very difficult."