Northern Ireland boss Ian Baraclough believes Blackpool forward Shayne Lavery will only get better for the club and the country.
Lavery took his season tally for the Seasiders to six goals in 12 games with a superb volley in Tuesday night’s 1-1 draw at Hull City,
The 22-year-old, who joined Blackpool from Irish League champions Linfield this summer, is currently posting a prolific return of a goal every 61 minutes for the Championship club.
But Baraclough is convinced there is even more to come from the mobile striker who scored his first international goal in last month’s 4-1 World Cup qualifying win over Lithuania in Vilnius.
“For everyone, whether young or old (in our team), they can learn from Shayne,” he said.
“I actually told Josh Magennis about him yesterday and seeing how he played for us in September was great for everyone.
“Shayne energizes everyone and gets us on the pitch faster. He has a lot of sides to his game that he needs to work on and he knows it.
“But having someone like him coming is great for everyone. I think he’s an inspiration for players from Northern Ireland who want to play across the water.
Baraclough were especially happy to see Lavery’s winner against Barnsley this weekend, a smart run complemented by a clinical finish from a tight angle inside the box.
“I was so happy to see his goal last weekend because it was a similar situation that he will find himself in several times, one-on-one with the goalkeeper,” he said. declared.
“He had a great race and produced a side-footed finish with pace. He’s a striker who keeps coming back and seeing that goal (against Barnsley) was great for me.
“It will boost his confidence and he has retained his great form at Blackpool which is great for the squad. “
Northern Ireland face Switzerland, who are three points ahead of them in Group C of the World Cup qualifiers, in Geneva on October 9, followed by a trip to Bulgaria three days later.
Italy are leading the pack, which means Baraclough and his players are effectively in a three-horse race with the Swiss and Bulgarians for second place and a play-off place.