HOT on the heels of securing a full-time contract with Championship club, Burnley, former Derry City defnder, Danny Lafferty, has finally moved onto the senior international scene.
ARTHUR DUFFY reports
The Carnhill man has been called into the Northern Ireland squad which will face Holland in the superb Amsterdam Arena on June 2nd, the Dutch side’s final preparation game ahead of the European Championships.
And while the talented left-back was always expected to receive a call-up from Michael O’Neill, the 23-year-old opted to play his cards close to his chest and wait until his call-up became official.
That news was relayed to him last week and he joins former “Candy Stripes” and Celtic team-mates Paddy McCourt and Niall McGinn in the senior squad.
“I’ve always made it clear that I want to be as good as I can be as a player,” said Danny last night. “And to be called up to play international football is yet another step forward in my career,” he added.
“I had spoken to Michael O’Neill regularly in relation to a possible call-up into the N. Ireland international squad and I made it clear that I’ve always wanted to play international football.”
Laffery was also aware of the fact that O’Neill travelled to England to watch Burnley play Bristol City in the final game of last season.
“There were a few players with aspirations of playing for N. Ireland representing both teams, so I suppose it was a good match for him to watch.
“But I’m delighted to have received word on the possibility of making my international debut against Holland and, hopefully, that will be the case in Amsterdam next month.
“It will be a proud day for me to play at that level and I intend to do all in power to stake a claim for a regular place in the team,” declared the Derry man.
Agreeing that it was “another big step” in his career, Danny wanted to play against the best players in the world.
“The Dutch will be expected to make an impact at the European Championships and I would be absolutely thrilled to share the pitch with some of their world class players. Obviously, I realise it’s a friendly game, but I think that quite a few of their players will be attempting to secure starting places in the ‘Euros’ so it should prove to be a competitiv’e game and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I will be involved in it.”
Lafferty has made good progress at Burnley since his £150,000 transfer from the Brandywell but he felt the season ended much too soon for him.
“I was enjoyed a good run, but the season ended. Now it’s all about getting a good pre-season behind me and making sure my name is on the team-sheet for our first match in August,” he concluded.