Shane Ferguson made his senior debut for Northern Ireland when he came on as a substitute in the 3–0 friendly defeat to Italy on 6th June, 2009 in Pisa.
Shane Ferguson – in action for Newcastle
But we were told by one reader in the Emerald Isle a couple of weeks ago, that there were rumblings over there, that the 19 year-old could switch his allegiance to Ireland from Northern Ireland.
That’s very interesting because would you believe that Northern Ireland meet Ireland in the Nations Cup on May 24th in Dublin, so if Shane is involved in that game, a good question is which side will it be for?
Shane was asked last week about his International future and he didn’t reveal too much:
“I’m just focusing on training hard and working hard with Newcastle United at the moment.” “That’s what I did during the international fortnight.”
“I’ve had some games recently with the Northern Ireland Under-21s, but other than that I’ll just keep aiming to do well for my club and see what happens.”
Ferguson was born in Derry, Northern Ireland back in July, 1991, and the word coming out of the Newcastle camp, is that Shane is contemplating his international future, and thinking of switching to play for Ireland.
It turns out that FIFA indicated two years ago that a player holding an Irish passport, could also play for Ireland, if they had not played a competitive game in either the European Championships or the World Cup.
Since Shane’s only cap is that friendly defeat against Italy, he seems to qualify, and certainly Ireland’s Italian manager Giovanni Trappatoni seems keen to get the 19 year-old into his squad.
On 12th November last year, Preston’s 20 year-old Adam Barton was called up for the Northern Ireland friendly against Morocco, and played the full 90 minutes.
But then last month more question marks were raised about his International future, when Adam was called up for the Ireland U21 side to play Portugal, and he made his debut for the Ireland Under-21 team against Portugal on 26th March.
So it looks like Barton has changed his allegiance, and that’s the precedent that Shane Ferguson could well follow.
It was surprising that Ferguson didn’t even make the bench for Northern Ireland’s last two European 2012 qualifiers, with a defeat in Serbia followed by a 0-0 draw against Slovenia, at Windsor Park .
Certainly over the last few decades or so Ireland has been a much better International side than Northern Ireland, and Ireland did qualify for the World Cup under manager Mick McCarthy back in 2002, and of course Shay Given was in the squad.
That’s when former Manchester United and Ireland captain Roy Keane was sent home in disgrace, after launching a blue verbal tirade at Mick McCarthy during a training session, criticizing his manager’s abilities.
How’s that for being helpful?
We expect Shane to make the switch, but we’ll follow this story closely.