Northern Ireland opened their World Cup qualification campaign with a 0-0 draw against the Czech Republic. Even though it was a stalemate, the team at least started the campaign without a loss.
At 25 years of age,McLaughlin is rightly poised to become the first choice right back for Ireland. The fact that manager O’Neill was pleased with the performance of the defender is likely to see him called up for the next round of qualification action, which will take place in October. Northern Ireland will be up against San Marino and Germany in the space of a few days. It will give O’Neill the possibility to testMcLaughlin against a minnow and the reigning world champions.McLaughlin, though, will be hoping that this praise from O’Neill results in more first-team opportunities. Despite being part of the Euro 2016 squad, the player made only one appearance at the major competition.
“I thought our two centre-halves were magnificent and our two full-backs did great. Conor came in and was excellent and Shane came in at left back. We don’t have a left back who is playing first-team football. Daniel Lafferty has recently gone to Sheffield United, so we are asking Shane to play in a position that is not his natural position.We are very dependant on our key players, but we had two lads stepping up from League One and coming to play on the international stage who did not look out of place,” said O’Neill.