Derry City's Nathan Gartside receives Northern Ireland call-up
Derry City's new number one Nathan Gartside has received a shock call up to Ian Baraclough's senior Northern Ireland squad for this month's World Cup 2022 qualifier's against Italy and Bulgaria.
The 23-year-old, who is the Candy Stripes first choice goalkeeper this season, is in the squad to face four times World Cup winners Italy in Parma on Thursday March 25th and their second qualifying game comes against fourth seeds Bulgaria at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park on Wednesday March 31st.
Gartside admitted it came as bit of a shock to receive the call-up but he's thrilled to be involved in the senior squad: “It was some present” he laughed “and it definitely came as a surprise."
“I’ve been working hard and gearing up for the start of our league season. It’s a huge year for me and I’ve been putting in the hard yards to make sure I’m ready.
“Of course it’s a massive honour to be selected for your country. I’m really looking forward to the experience and it’s up to me to keep working hard and doing well for Derry City. If I can do that it will give me an opportunity to be a part of the long term plans.”
Burnley goalkeeper Bailey Peacock-Farrell and Celtic shot-stopper Conor Hazard are the two other keepers named in Baraclough's squad, who also face USA in a friendly at Windsor Park on Sunday March 28th.
The former Watford starlet was given his first taste of international football at U21 level under Baraclough, as the ex-Sligo Rovers boss gave him his debut against Romania U21 in November 2019.
After that game Baraclough was full of praise for his young keeper saying: "He goes and attacks every day as if it's a match day and he was a calming influence, he was a good voice for the lads at the back and you wouldn't have thought he was making his debut.
"He's got really, really good reflexes and it's nice to know that we have got amount of keeper's coming through."
The ex-Institute keeper was man of the match in that Euro U21 qualifier, which took place at Ballymena Showgrounds and he becomes the first Derry City player since Eamon Zayed in 2011 to be selected in a squad for competitive internationals.
The upshot of Gartside's call-up means that Derry’s first scheduled home game of the year, against Shamrock Rovers on Saturday March 28th, now looks likely to be postponed until after the international break.