Paddy McNair excels in midfield for Northern Ireland in win over Belarus

by Sam Peoples

Paddy McNair excelled in midfield for Northern Ireland on Friday night in their 3-0 win over Belarus.

The 21-year-old has been turned into a defensive midfielder by N.Ireland boss Michael O’Neill and played a crucial role in their Euro 2016 qualifying campaign. That continued against Belarus and he played so well that he was named man of the match for his performance.

A quick look at what Northern Ireland fans thought of McNair’s performance tells you he put in a great shift, with some going as far as to compare his style and performance to that of Yaya Toure.

Toure comparisons might be overstepping the mark but McNair is clearly enjoying himself in midfield and it’s looking more and more likely we will see him play there at Euro 2016 which will be a huge moment for him in his career.

At United so far, McNair has had an up and down time. I’ll be honest in saying I didn’t even want him to make his debut when he did because Tom Thorpe was a better option at the time but Louis van Gaal thought differently.

At the start, McNair proved himself to be comfortable in the first-team but van Gaal dropped him as soon as he made a mistake and I’m not sure he’s ever recovered from being hooked off before half-time against Southampton.

Playing for Northern Ireland would be McNair’s big chance at showing Jose Mourinho what kind of player he is but there is going to be so much competition next year he’s got his work cut out. That being said, he’s already won over the hearts of Northern Ireland fans so he’s half way there.

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