Northern Ireland: 'We're looking for that commitment,' says manager Michael O'Neill before June friendlies

Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill has said “we need to get away” from viewing international friendlies after the club season as an inconvenience.

O’Neill gave Manchester United defender Jonny Evans, as well as unattached duo Corry Evans and Josh Magennis, the option of not travelling for games against Spain on 8 June and Andorra three days later, but the experienced trio all wanted to take their place in the squad.

Winger Paddy Lane, however, told O’Neill he felt he would “benefit from not being involved”.

Lane, who has four caps and started against Romania in March, scored 12 goals for Portsmouth as they won the League One title this season.

“We need to get away from that thinking,” said O’Neill, when asked if it should be viewed as a positive that so many wanted to be on the trip.

“I only had one player, Paddy Lane, who said that he felt he’d benefit from not being involved.

“My argument to that was ‘well, that won’t benefit you going forward because you need to commit to international football’.”

O’Neill added that he wanted players to be keen to “establish themselves” in his squad and team.

“We’re looking for that commitment from the players.

“I went recently out to Belgium to watch Isaac Price and he said he can’t wait to come and join up in June. That’s the attitude that you want from players coming into the squad.”

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