Club boost key for Ferguson

Shane Ferguson (right) finished with tw assists against San Marino. Pic by PressEye Ltd.
Shane Ferguson (right) finished with tw assists against San Marino. Pic by PressEye Ltd.
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Shane Ferguson is confident increased playing time at club level can lead to continued international progress.

The 25-year-old finished Saturday’s World Cup qualifier against San Marino with two assists in a 4-0 win for Northern Ireland.

Ferguson embraced the opportunity to focus on his attacking strengths as Northern Ireland dominated possession.

The left-back capped clever footwork by delivering a cross into the danger area from the flank that led to a foul on Josh Magennis and penalty success after 27 minutes by captain Steven Davis.

Ferguson was also on hand to whip across a ball in the second half which allowed substitute Kyle Lafferty to celebrate his introduction off the sidelines with a spot on the scoresheet.

Four goals - with Lafferty on a brace overall and Jamie Ward the other scorer - plus a clean sheet provided Northern Ireland with the perfect start to the home World Cup qualifying campaign.

Ferguson was quick to take time out of the post-match celebrations to highlight the benefits generated by a permanent move to Millwall.

The Derry City youth graduate progressed into Newcastle United’s senior side as a teenager before a string of loan spells that ultimately ended with a switch to the League One club.

Ferguson has featured in 10 of Millwall’s 11 league fixtures to date this season.

“It is good to be getting games at Millwall,” said Ferguson. “Certainly at this stage of the season I would not be able to help out on the international stage in the same way if on the bench or not getting games at club level.

“It is good to be playing and enjoying my football.”

Ferguson is realistic in his assessment of the challenge Northern Ireland now face in Germany tomorrow (Tuesday).

“It was good to get a few assists against San Marino and we worked a lot on getting the ball out wide and putting it into the box,” he said. “We were probably a bit frustrated at times but the manager’s message was to stay patient.

“It was great to see Windsor Park bouncing but now the focus turns to the next test.

“Germany will be a completely different game and we have a lot of work to do.

“However, we are all looking forward to facing some of the best players in the world.”