Paddy McNair happy to play wherever he is needed

Northern Ireland's Paddy McNair
Northern Ireland's Paddy McNair

Northern Ireland’s ‘Mr Versatile’, Paddy McNair, says he is happy to play in any position he’s required for his country.

The Middlesbrough man has filled a variety of roles for his country on his way to 21 caps with boss Michael O’Neill playing McNair every time he is available.

Paddy McNair. Photo by William Cherry/Presseye

Paddy McNair. Photo by William Cherry/Presseye

McNair earned rave reviews for his performance as right back in the 3-0 win over Israel last time out, with O’Neill feeling that’s where the Ballyclare native could be playing from now on.

The 23-year-old revelled in the role, especially the attacking aspect.

He said: “One of the reasons I like playing in midfield is that I can get in the box, playing right back, particularly in the last game, I was able to attack a lot.

“I really enjoyed it, and if I play there again hopefully I’ll be able to keep doing that.

“It’s great to hear Michael say that he’ll always play me, but I do think it works against me sometimes playing in a variety of positions because it means I don’t have one position nailed down.

“But if he wants me to play right back, centre back or midfield I’m happy to do so.

“I enjoy playing right back. If you asked me my preferred position would be midfield, but with this new playing style I’m able to get forward from right back and get involved with the attacking play, and that’s what I love to do.

“It’s the same at club level as it is with Northern Ireland - right back or midfield.

“In a cup game I played the first half at right back and the second in midfield.

“I’ve also played right-wing back before we switched to a flat back four, as well as right midfield.

“I think though if I’m going to cement a position at club level it will be right back or midfield.”

McNair is looking forward to getting some game time after a slightly frustrating time at Middlesbrough.

He has only made four appearances for the Riverside outfit after he made the summer switch from Sunderland.

“The game time at club level has been a little bit frustrating, but it’s a long season in the Championship, and I know I will get my chance at some point,” he said.

“These two games come at a goo time for me because you want to keep your fitness levels up, and you do that getting games.

“So if I can get a couple of games here I can go back to club level raring to go.”

McNair and the rest of the Northern Ireland squad are enjoying the new playing style O’Neill is implementing with Northern Ireland on the front foot from the off and pressing teams.

“All the lads are enjoying it. When you play football you want to have the ball, and you want to attack,” he said. “In the last two games we’ve definitely had more passes and shots on target than the opponents.

“After the disappointment of losing to Bosnia after such a good performance the main thing was to get a win against Israel. We played very well on the night and we got the result.”