N. Ireland's Ferguson hopes to prove worth

Shane Ferguson is hoping his exploits with Northern Ireland can help him prove his worth to Newcastle and flourish in the BPL.

Shane Ferguson

Ferguson, 22, has played a handful of first-team matches for the Magpies but is currently on a season-long loan with Birmingham, having dropped a division in pursuit of regular matches.

He may appear to be the very embodiment of a recent study that showed British players are finding it harder and harder to make an impact on England's top flight, but he has not given up hope of being a hit at St James' Park.

And he believes his status as a regular international for Northern Ireland could hold the key.

"I played my first senior game for Northern Ireland before I'd played for Newcastle and it was good for me," he told Press Association Sport.

"International football gives you a lot of opportunities, with a lot of people watching. If you're performing on the international stage then people will be looking at you for club football too.

"I've plenty of time left on my deal at Newcastle, two years after this season, so I have the time to get back into the team.

"For now it's good for me to get plenty of games instead of coming on here and there."

Although Ferguson, who is expected to start his country's final World Cup qualifier against Israel on Tuesday night, is defiantly optimistic about his future, he cannot deny that the route for homegrown players into Premier League teams is a tough one to negotiate.

"It is hard, there's a lot of competition and lots of boys at your heels trying to take your position," he said.

"The bigger the club you're at the more players they can bring in with the money they've got. You have to work hard for a chance and take it when you do get it.

"But that's probably harder than ever now...with a lot of scouts all over the world, especially at bigger teams, but to be fair to Newcastle the manager does play youngsters. He gave a lot of us experience in Europe last season."

The Israel clash represents the final match of Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill's current deal.

Goalkeeping coach Maik Taylor believes he is the best man to take the side forward despite defeats in Luxembourg and Azerbaijan leaving O'Neill with just one win in 13 matches.

"I strongly believe the way forward is with Michael at the helm and leading us into the Euros," Taylor told Press Association Sport.

"I really feel if he carries on then everyone will be better for that continuity.

"Michael is very, very passionate. He's hurting as much, if not more, than anyone else."

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