Northern Ireland boss O’Neill recommended Falkirk move for Everton striker Lavery

Shayne Lavery. Picture Michael Gillen.
Shayne Lavery. Picture Michael Gillen.

Everton striker Shayne Lavery talked over his loan switch to Falkirk with his international boss Michael O’Neill.

And the former Hibs winger and Brechin City boss gave the half-season switch the thumbs up.

Shayne Lavery. Picture Michael Gillen.

Shayne Lavery. Picture Michael Gillen.

O’Neill called Lavery up to the international squad last year for a friendly in Panama, but since then the 20-year-old striker has found games hard to come by.

So when the opportunity came to make the move to Scotland, the Lurgan-born forward jumped at the chance.

Lavery said: “There were a few options but once my agent said about Falkirk I thought it looked like a good move and a good set-up and I thought it was an opportunity for me to come up and get some game time.

PLAYER PROFILE: Shayne Lavery

Shayne Lavery. Picture Michael Gillen.

Shayne Lavery. Picture Michael Gillen.

“I spoke to Michael O’Neill a few times with my agent speaking to him as well and he thought Falkirk would be a good move for me as well to get some football.

“International football is always on the back of my mind but I’m not really thinking about that at the moment because all I am focused on is trying to get as much football as I can with Falkirk. But if that helps me get international call ups again further down the line then then even better.

“I didn’t get much football before Falkirk so I am trying to build my fitness up here and get myself into the starting 11.”

One of his few games though was an appearance in Central America at the end of last season for his national side after a surprise call-up to provide a World Cup warm-up to Russia-bound Panama.

Shayne Lavery. Picture Michael Gillen.

Shayne Lavery. Picture Michael Gillen.

SQUAD PROFILE: Northern Ireland

The softly-spoken striker added: “It was an amazing experience to make my full debut for Northern Ireland especially with it being in Panama – it was crazy so it was – before they went to the World Cup last year. It was an amazing experience.

“It was a big surprise to be called up, I think a few people got injured and then I got my call. I wasn’t expecting it at all but it was amazing.

“Michael O’Neill is really good with the young lads bringing them up to the senior squad and especially with the under-21s having a really good campaign and finishing second in our qualifying group, it does help us push on.”

Alongside Lavery in the Northern Ireland youth ranks was a familiar face for Falkirk fans – last season’s loan goalkeeper Conor Hazard, now with Partick Thistle.

LEAGUE TABLE: SPFL Championship

Lavery added: “ Conor Hazard is someone I know and he was here last year so I spoke to him about Falkirk. Obviously he played under different management but he gave me a lot of positive thoughts about the place so that only helped for us my move up here.

“It was funny play against him at Partick Thistle. I was hoping I got on the pitch to get a shot in at him at least and I was glad I did, because I have grown up with him through under 16s and under 17s so we know each other really well.

“The aim is just to kick on and try and get as much game time as I can. To do that I’ll have to try and displace Zak [Rudden] although that’s easier said than done because he’s on fire but I’ll just keep working hard in training and see what happens from there.”