Reds duo in line for Northern Ireland debuts
Posted by nickogs20 on May 20, 2009
Northern Ireland manager Nigel Worthington has included ten uncapped players in his squad for next month’s international friendly against Italy, including United youngsters Craig Cathcart and Corry Evans.
With so many regular senior squad members unavailable due to holiday commitments, Worthington has essentially named an experimental squad, with the only experience coming in the form of Damien Johnson, Grant McCann and United academy graduate (and all-time N.I. leading goalscorer) David Healy. The rest of the 19-man travelling party is made up of those with a handful of caps to their name and ten completely new names, five from the Irish League.
Cathcart and Evans’ call-ups are reward for terrific seasons from both players. 20 year-old Cathcart has spent the entire campaign in the Championship with Plymouth Argyle, contributing significantly to their ultimately successful fight against relegation and impressing enough to earn the club’s Young Player of the Season award. The Glengormley-born centre-half has been a part of the national Under-21 setup for the last few years, recently captaining the side, and only missed out on a ‘B’ cap in the recent friendly with Scotland due to the injury that brought his spell with Plymouth to a premature end in April. All being well he will have sufficiently recovered in time to pick up his first full cap in Pisa’s Arena Garibaldi on June 6th.
Evans meanwhile has made terrific progress this season with both club and country. In his first full year with the Reserves, the 18 year-old midfielder started the season filling in as an emergency centre-back, a position he was to excel in to such an extent that he was awarded the captaincy in January and recieved a nomination for Reserve Player of the Year in April. Currently away with United at the Blue Stars tournament, his domestic campaign could end on a huge high with the possibility of involvement in United’s final league game at Hull this weekend. On the international front, the Belfast youngster has progressed from captain of the Under-19s into the U21s, last month’s ‘B’ squad and now Worthington’s senior group – there can’t be many players who have featured at four different levels in the same season.
These two are of course part of a strong Northern Irish contingent at Old Trafford that collectively bears a great deal of promise. Corry’s elder brother Jonny is of course the jewel in the crown, arguably Europe’s finest young centre-back at present, a Premier League champion this past weekend and long since a regular for the national side. Also in the ranks are ‘keeper Conor Devlin, already an U19 cap, and winger Johnny Gorman, who looks likely to be handed a scholarship this summer and has already represented his country at U17 level.
There is one other interesting case – academy midfielder Oliver Norwood, English-born but of Northern Irish parentage. Captain of the U18 side in the second half of this season, the 18 year-old recently took the opportunity to represent Northern Ireland in an U19 friendly and was swiftly fast-tracked into the ‘B’ squad for the friendly with Scotland, during which he made an impressive cameo. Until competitive games come around, the Burnley-born midfielder doesn’t have to make a final decision on where his national football allegiances will lie, but the signs seem to be that he is leaning N.I.’s way.