Michael O’Neill might not know what the future holds for Paddy McNair at Manchester United, but the Northern Ireland boss knows he can always depend on the 21-year-old to deliver for his country.
McNair proved his quality and versatility with another stellar display against Belarus last Friday at Windsor Park.
Nurtured as a central defender at Manchester United under sacked boss Louis van Gaal, McNair has matured in a midfield role for Northern Ireland during the Euro qualifiers and subsequent warm-up games.
And O’Neill hopes new Red Devils boss Jose Mourinho discovers those same talents after this summer’s Euros.
“Of course I hope Jose Mourinho gives Paddy a chance at Manchester United. Paddy is in a difficult position, because I would expect the new manager will spend money to bring players in to fill those positions,” said O’Neill.
“The previous manager saw Paddy predominantly as a centre-back, which I don’t think that is his best position.”
McNair is hoping he can impress Mourinho at this summer’s Euros and forge his way into the United manager’s plans for next season.
In an interview last week McNair said: “Jose Mourinho a world class manager. He’s worked at massive clubs and worked with some of the best players in the world.
“Obviously, I’ll be looking to impress. If I’m playing (in France) hopefully he can watch me and make his opinion of me there. Pre-season will be another chance to impress.”
Northern Ireland chief O’Neill believes McNair’s position at Old Trafford mirrors that of international team-mate Jonny Evans who spent nine years with the Red Devils before moving to West Brom last summer.“Paddy faces a dilemma similar to Jonny Evans when he was at United, they are international players before they are established club players.
“But the fact is they never let us down, and Paddy is building his reputation every time he steps out on the pitch with Northern Ireland.
“And the people at Old Trafford are seeing that. When we speak to them they say how impressed they have been when he has played for Northern Ireland.
“So hopefully he can go back after the summer and impress the new manager.”