Fleetwood right back McLaughlin named in Northern Ireland’s 23-man Euro 16 squad

Fleetwood Town's Conor McLaughlin
Fleetwood Town's Conor McLaughlin
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Fleetwood defender Conor McLaughlin will be the first Town player to represent the club at a major international tournament.

McLaughlin was named in Michael O’Neill’s 23-man squad on Saturday for next months Euro 16 tournament in France.

McLaughlin has been O’Neill’s first choice right-back in the build up to the tournament and played the full 90 minutes in Northern Ireland’s 3-0 win over Belarus at Windsor Park in the defender’s home city of Belfast.

His rival for the full-back role, Peterborough’s Michael Smith, was not in the final 23-man squad and so it looks like McLaughlin is set to start in Northern Ireland’s opening Group C game against Poland on June 12.

The 24-year-old has fought his way back from injury to force his way into international contention.

McLaughlin was on the cusp of a call up to the national team when he suffered a career-threatening injury playing for Preston North End in 2011.

McLaughlin dislocated his left ankle and fractured his fibula bone after landing awkwardly in North End’s 4-0 defeat to Bristol City.

He recovered and finally made his international bow in October 2011 in a 3-0 defeat to Italy.

McLaughlin left PNE and joined Town in 2012 and his international career has gone from strength to strength.

And he says the experience means he does not take anything for granted and he is excited to test himself against some of the best players in the world.

He said: “Representing my country is definitely up there.

“It is one of the best things I have done in my career.

“I love playing in (my home city) Belfast (like I did on Friday night).

“Our fans are great and every time we play in front of them at home it is amazing.

“A couple of matches before my injury (at Preston) I was thinking I was going to be called up. It took a while for me to get back into that position again and so now I am not taking anything for granted.”