Cliftonville pair may reunite as a strikeforce for the North
A REUNION of the all-conquering Cliftonville strikeforce of 2012-14 could be on the cards at international level.
Liam Boyce - one half of the dynamic duo that netted 46 league goals in 2012-13 and 48 the following season - has forced his way back into Michael O’Neill’s Northern Ireland squad for the friendlies against Qatar and the Republic and the crucial Euro 2016 qualifier against Romania on June 13.
And O’Neill said yesterday that he gave serious consideration to calling up the other half – Boyce’s former strike partner Joe Gormley – too.
Boyce finished his first season with Scottish Premier League outfit Ross County with nine goals from 13 starts and prolific Gormley continued to find the net for Cliftonville with 40 goals in all competitions last term.
“I was tempted to bring Joe in based on statistics but you are looking at a part-time player who hasn’t played since the start of May,” said O’Neill, whose side sit second in Group F well placed to qualify for the France finals with five games to go.
“That’s a huge jump to ask Joe to come into the squad so I don't think this is the right time for Joe.
“There is a lot of speculation about Joe and I'd like to think he would get the opportunity to go cross channel and then you could really consider him more than you could do now.”
O’Neill explained that he has been contacted by clubs in England and Scotland who are interested in signing the former Crumlin Star frontman. He hopes to see him seal a cross-channel move this summer.
“I have spoken to Joe and said to him this may not be the right time for him and hopefully that something would happen for him in the summer,” he said.
“I do get calls from clubs in England and Scotland about Joe for an opinion on and it would be nice to see Joe get that opportunity, but the other lads in the squad are younger, full-time players and what we need at this point in time. But I would certainly never rule out Joe.”
Meanwhile, Sheffield Wednesday’s Caolan Lavery and Trevor Carson will be hoping for international debuts in the friendly against Qatar in Crewe on May 31 and Boyce will also be hoping to return to action for the North – the last of his four caps came against Wales in 2011.
“I have kept a close eye on Liam since he moved to Ross County,” said O’Neill.
“He found it difficult to make an impact in the early part of the season up until Christmas, but he is good shape, has scored nine goals in 13 starts and he has been a big factor in Ross County getting out the relegation trouble they were in.
“Jimmy Nicholl watched him last week and this is a good opportunity to look at Liam.”