Middlesbrough midfielder Paddy McNair tipped for Premier League return after impressive international display
Middlesbrough midfielder Paddy McNair has what it takes to play in the Premier League again, according to his international manager Michael O'Neill.
The 24-year-old scored twice for Northern Ireland in a 3-2 friendly victory over the Czech Republic on Monday night, continuing his impressive start to the season for both club and country.
McNair has previously played in the Premier League for both Manchester United and Sunderland, and O'Neill believes the midfielder has all the attributes to compete at the top level.
“He’s still a relatively young player, and he is possibly now where he should have been two years ago if it wasn't for injury,” said O’Neill after the game.
“He had a serious injury at Sunderland and it took him longer to get back then possibly he would have liked.
“He’s had a difficult season last season at Middlesbrough, where he wasn’t an automatic player, but this season that has changed. His club situation has changed and we’re seeing the benefit of that.”
McNair has returned to his natural centre midfield role at Boro this season and O'Neill has seen an clear difference.
“I think we played a bit part in the turnaround of his fortunes at club level because he was still an important player for us,” added the Northern Ireland boss. “But I’m delighted because he's a great boy, a great athletic player, a top player.
“When you look at what is required now to play at the highest level, whether it be the Premier League or international football, Paddy has all the attributes to do that.”