Fleetwood boss Graham Alexander insists the “sky is the limit” for international star Conor McLaughlin as Northern Ireland stand on the brink of Euro 2016 qualification.
The Fleetwood full-back is expected to start in Belfast tonight as Michael O’Neill’s side take on Hungary knowing a win will book their place in the finals.
Alexander knows just what that would mean for the defender and the club.
He said: “I was in contact with Conor over the weekend, I watched the game he played in.
“You don’t want to jump the gun because they still haven’t done it but hopefully they’ll get the job done sooner rather than later.
“For Northern Ireland to get to a major championship would be fantastic. To have one of our players involved in that – and playing very well, is just amazing.
“I watched the game, he’s very comfortable at that level and I really believe he’s one of the best defenders in this division.
“We’ve got some fantastic players at this club but Conor has really come to the fore. The sky is the limit for him.”
Alexander played alongside McLaughlin when the two were at Preston North End.
And he’s thrilled to see his former team-mate develop into a fully fledged international footballer.
“I played with Conor in my last year, saw his quality.
“I know he had a terrible injury at Preston, it will have knocked the stuffing out of him.
“But he’s come here and shown just what you can achieve in a short time.”
Alexander hopes McLaughlin’s rapid rise to the international stage will inspire others in his young squad.
He said: “In two years he’s gone from being in and out of a League Two side to being an international.
“If you put the work in and do things right that’s how quickly your career can change.”