|Paddy Mc Nair|
Paddy McNair has described his rise from Manchester United’s Under-21s to the first team as “a crazy couple of months”, but he has loved every minute.
One of United’s brightest talents, the defender made his senior Reds debut against West Ham in September after just 11 appearances for the Under-21s.
And, before his fourth appearance of the season for Louis van Gaal’s side against Crystal Palace on Saturday, the 19-year-old Northern Irishman revealed to MUTV how his career accelerated from the beginning of the season.
“It’s been a crazy couple of months,” he said. “I was playing with the Under-21s two months ago, then all of a sudden I’m playing in front of 75,000 people at Old Trafford.
“It has happened so fast. Last year I think I played 11 games for the U21s so hopefully I’ll be close to 11 for the first team by the end of the season.”
McNair was handed his bow against the Hammers due to defensive injury problems but he has grabbed his opportunity with both hands, impressing with some level-headed displays that have belied his young age.
He completed almost the full game against Palace, coming off in the last minute with cramp. He’s already experienced his first Manchester derby, entering the fray as an early second-half substitute last weekend after Marcos Rojo suffered a dislocated shoulder.
“When I was growing up, I always wanted to play for Manchester United, and now I am playing in Manchester derbies, so it’s been good and I’ve loved every minute of it,” he said.
McNair’s form for United led to him being called up to the Northern Ireland senior squad in October, but he had to withdraw after picking up an injury.
However, manager Michael O’Neill has selected him again for the upcoming international fixtures and the youngster has big ambitions.
“It was a bit frustrating [to be injured] because I’d just been called up for Northern Ireland, so I missed the opportunity there. I’m glad he recalled me to the squad,” he said.
“It’s a dream come true to be called up. I think the last time they were in a major tournament was 1986, so if I can help them get to France in 2016 that would be great.” Will Smith