Football/Soccer

Gavin Whyte dreams of Northern Ireland debut against Bosnia-Herzegovina

Northern Ireland's Gavin Whyte is dreaming of a senior debut this Saturday against Bosnia & Herzegovina.
Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

DONNING a green and ‘Whyte’ jersey is the dream for Oxford United’s latest scoring star – and it’s closer to coming true.

Gavin Whyte’s call-up to the Northern Ireland senior squad for Saturday’s Uefa Nations League opener against Bosnia and Herzegovina means he may he able to wear the kit that he loved seeing in the summer.

Part of the touring panel to Panama and Costa Rica before the World Cup, the 22-year-old wide attacker wasn’t fit to feature in either match, so says:

“Playing at Windsor for Northern Ireland would mean the world to me. When I went to [central] America I saw ‘Whyte’ and the number seven on the back of the shirt and it was unbelievable.

“Windsor has been good to me, I’ve scored a few goals there [for Crusaders] and it would be a dream to play with the Northern Ireland lads there.

“The tour helped me get the move in the summer. It was an amazing two weeks and the training was amazing. An injury prevented me from playing but I’d like to thank Michael [O’Neill] for giving me that opportunity.”

Whyte has already impressed for Oxford after his move from Seaview, even though he’s still adjusting to a full-time training regime.

He has netted against Accrington Stanley in League One and scored great strikes in EFL Cup victories over Coventry City and Newport County, earning Karl Robinson’s side a meeting with English champions and holders Manchester City later this month.

Despite his star performances in the Irish League in recent seasons, he admits his rise has been a surprise:

“I didn’t really expect a call-up this soon. I got the email to go on the Under-21 trip but my agent told me to keep the ’phone on because you never know.

“I got an email from David Currie to say I was in the squad and as soon as I saw that I rang my mum [Patricia] and she was over the moon. It’s been a crazy few months for me but the best ones as well…

“Making my debut would mean the world to me and my family. This is why you play the game, to make your competitive international debut. I’ll keep working hard, hoping it comes.

“Michael is keeping up to date with my progress and he tells me to keep playing my own game and show no fear”.

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