Town’s home international McLaughlin

Conor McLaughlin
Conor McLaughlin
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Conor McLaughlin is hoping Fleetwood Town fans will take the opportunity to see one of their own in international action.

The right-back is in the Northern Ireland squad to face Qatar on Sunday – the match being played at Crewe Alexandra’s Gresty Road stadium.

The match, against the 2022 World Cup hosts is a warm up for Northern Ireland’s crucial France 2016 qualifier against Romania at Windsor Park on June 13 – a top of the group clash.

McLaughlin knows Northern Ireland will be well supported at Gresty Road but hopes the Cod Army will also be out in force to back their man.

He said: “We know we’ve got a lot of supporters in North West England.

“But it would be great to have some Fleetwood fans there as well.

“It’s a great chance for them to see some an international game.

“There’s not a lot of opportunities for people to do that in the North West so hopefully we’ll get plenty along.”

McLaughlin joined up with the Northern Ireland squad on Wednesday for a training session at Manchester City.

And he admits it’s a world apart from the facilities he’s used to with Fleetwood Town – the club having used Fylde Rugby Club as a base since McLaughlin arrived three-years-ago.

“It’s a different world,” he told The Gazette.

“We were on the youth team pitch, I think, and there was a stadium around it.

“The surface was like a carpet - it’s amazing.

“It’s brilliant to get to use a facility like that.”

While McLaughlin is looking forward to playing in the North West, where he’s been based for his entire club career (with Preston and Fleetwood) he knows the game is just a teaser ahead of next month’s big game at Windsor Park.

“That’s a massive game,” said McLaughlin.

“We all know the significance, what’s at stake.

“We’ve put in some great performances so far in qualifying, we’ve really surpised some people.

“There have been some great starts in games and we have blown a couple of sides away.

“But we know this is going to be a tough one.

“There’s qualification for a major tournament at stake.”

To play at the European Championships in France next summer would be a massive achievement for McLaughlin.

But he refuses to get carried away with Northern Ireland’s start to qualification.

“It hasn’t really sunk in yet, that we could be there,” said the Fleetwood right-back.

“I don’t really want to dwell on it too much.

“You can’t get carried away.

“I know it’s a cliche but we’ve got to think about it, take it one game at a time and take nothing for granted.”

n American goalkeeper Brendan Moore has agreed a contract to remain at Highbury until the end of the 2015/16 campaign.

The shot stopper signed for the Cod Army at the end of February and had been training with the club since the turn of the year.

Moore is likely to be Town’s main reserve option next season with Scott Davies out of favour and young stand-in Mason Springthorpe among the 14 players released at the end of the season.

Town have also signed young midfielder Conor Smith on his first professional deal.

The teenager was a key member of the club’s youth squad and has been training with Barry Nicholson’s development group.