SHANE FERGUSON has refuted claims that Northern Ireland supremo, Nigel Worthington, publicly stated that the Eglinton-based defender ignored his calls and he insists he remains undecided over his international future.
SIMON COLLINS reports
The 19-year-old is the latest player to become embroiled in an international tug-of-war between the IFA and FAI over recent weeks and despite reports suggesting he was bound to declare for the Republic of Ireland, Ferguson yesterday insisted he would take his time before making a decision of such magnitude.
Worthington appeared earlier this month to have given up on the possibility of keeping hold of the Newcastle starlet, claiming he had frustratingly made several failed attempts to contact Ferguson.
“The situation with Shane is, I and two other officials from the Irish FA have tried to make contact. We have left voice mail messages, text messages and made random calls to Shane. There has been no reply,” Worthington stated.
However, Ferguson dismissed those claims as ‘untrue,’ and revealed he had informed the N. Ireland boss that he wanted time to mull over the decision before pledging his international future with either governing body.
Currently at home in Derry following a remarkable season in the English Premiership with the ‘Magpies’, Ferguson was concerned that Worthington’s comments would have a negative effect on his future relationship with N.Ireland supporters, should he decide to stay north of the border.
Ferguson, who can play on the left side of midfield or in the converted left-back role he has adopted at Newcastle, suggested that the IFA were ‘jumping the gun’ before he had actually made a final decision.
“I haven’t made a decision yet and some of the stuff Nigel Worthington has said wasn’t true and that annoyed me,” added Ferguson. “He said something about me not talking and ignoring calls from him and that’s not true.
“I spoke to him and told him I wanted to wait until the summer and have a think about things and then I’ll make my decision. I told him that early before I was even home for the break and he’s come out and said this stuff. He’s probably made me out to look bad.”
Whether or not Worthington’s comments have forced the hand of the youngster remains to be seen, but Ferguson is adamant that he will take everything into consideration during his well earned summer break before making his final decision.
“It’s just a hard decision and I’ll have to sit and think about it over the summer. People are jumping the gun and thinking I’ve done it already but nobody has heard me say anything about it.”
The ongoing eligibility row has soured the relationship between the IFA and FAI following high profile cases involving Derry born players, Darron Gibson and Shane Duffy in recent years.
Incredibly Ferguson is the third Derry lad plying his trade in the Premiership to find himself at the centre of the controversy but there is still some hope he will decline the invitation from the Republic of Ireland and refuse to switch his allegiance from the North.
The FAI’s Chief scout, Don Givens, admitted that the FAI had been in contact with Ferguson but would not be drawn on how far down the line negotiations had gone.
Ferguson has already played at senior level for N. Ireland when coming on as a substitute in a 3-0 defeat against Italy in Pisa in June 2009.
He has represented the north at various youth levels, however, he still is eligible to declare for the south given that the Italy match was a friendly fixture.