McNair retains place in Manchester United team

Manchester United's Paddy McNair.
Manchester United's Paddy McNair.

Manchester United’s Paddy McNair will play against Everton on Sunday, manager Louis van Gaal has said.

The Ballyclare native retains his place in the team and has another big chance to impress at centre-back after his impressive debut performance at Old Trafford in last weekend’s 2-1 win over West Ham.

Speaking at a press conference on Friday, van Gaal said: “I believe we still have three central defenders injured so he shall play. He’s the only player that can play in that right central defender position.

“I have chosen [him] last week. That was more difficult than now because he has played very good … but for a player like him it’s very difficult to maintain that level so that is his biggest challenge.”

The 19-year-old was given the nod against the Hammers last Saturday when a lengthy defensive injury list - which included Jonny Evans, Phil Jones and Chris Smalling - left the Red Devils threadbare at the back.

He won praise from striker Robin van Persie and Spanish international Juan Mata who blogged: ‘In my opinion, Paddy has a bright future ahead’.

McNair was not selected in Michael O’Neill’s 27-man Northern Ireland panel for the Euro qualifiers with the Faroe Islands and Greece.

But, speaking after he revealed his squad on Tuesday, O’Neill admitted: “I will monitor the situation between now and the squad meeting up on Monday. There are one or two players carrying knocks and it’s still an option to add him to the squad.

“It’s great to see a young player from Northern Ireland making the breakthrough at a club like Manchester United, but I don’t want to put too much expectation on him at this stage.”