PADDY McCOURT refused to get drawn on speculation concerning his future at club level in the aftermath of his sensational performance for Northern Ireland against the Faroe Islands at Windsor Park last Wednesday night.
The 27 year-old Shantallow man has been linked with a move to Premier League outfit Wolves, the Black Country side expected to test Celtic’s resolve by launching a transfer deadline day swoop for the N.Ireland ace later this month.
McCourt has never expressed a desire to quit Parkhead but the SPL giants may find it difficult to turn down a reasonable cash offer for the midfielder who has, so far, failed to command a regular place in Neil Lennon’s starting line-up, despite scoring some eye-catching goals since his switch from the Brandywell in 2008.
However, McCourt didn’t want to get involved in talk of a move away from Celtic Park following his majestic first competitive international start.
“I don’t know about interest from elsewhere, to be honest,” he said. “I’m a Celtic player and I enjoy playing there so as far as I know that’s where I am.”
There is unlikely to be a shortage of managers willing to take McCourt south of the border following his magical, ‘man of the match’ display during Nigel Worthington side’s 4-0 Euro Championship qualifier victory this week, the Derry man chipping in with two irresistible strikes to open up his international account which drew chants of appreciation from the ‘Green and White Army’.
McCourt struck with a great individual effort on 71 minutes that lifted the 15,000 strong crowd, but his second was simply unbelievable. His quick feet totally bamboozled the Faroe’s defence before audaciously looping the ball over Jakup Mikkelsen, the bewildered goalkeeper.
Comparisons with Lionel Messi and George Best ensued, however, the modest Derry man played down the lavish praise afterwards and instead insisted he was simply pleased to play his part in the victory.
“The supporters were fantastic. The last time they were singing my name when I came off the bench and to hear it again was a nice touch.”
“I’ve heard those Messi comparisons!” McCourt laughed. “It’s a bit of banter.”
“It was just good to get the result and I was pleased as well that we got the four goals in total,” he said. “I was delighted to get the start though and to go on and contribute to the team.
“It was my first competitive start and I really enjoyed it. You always have a point to prove. The whole team had after the Faroes held us to a draw out there. To win the way we did was very pleasing.”
N.Ireland boss, Worthington branded McCourt “the entertainer” afterwards, and promised to integrate the former Derry City playmaker into a less adventurous formation for next month’s home test against Serbia.
“I’ll have to pick a team around Paddy to ensure he is in the starting line-up. He has amazing ability and has to be in there.”