'I want to make the Northern Ireland senior team' - Derry City midfielder Patrick McEleney

The Derry City midfielder has stated his aim of making the Northern Ireland senior team after his switch of association from the Republic of Ireland
Derry City midfielder Patrick McEleney has revealed his ambitions of making the Northern Ireland senior team after switching from the Republic of Ireland.

The 20-year-old had played at under-17 and under-19 level for the Republic of Ireland and was due to be included in Noel King's under-21 squad for the recent qualifier against Italy last month.

However, he has instead declared for Northern Ireland after speaking with managers Michael O'Neill and Stephen Robinson and stated his ambition of making the senior squad.

"The senior team has to be where you look to," McEleney told the Irish Independent.  "(Linfield goalkeeper) Alan Blaney has played in it while in the Irish League and a few boys have done it. That has to be the aim."

McEleney's decision comes in the aftermath of his brother Shane's decision to switch allegiance from the Republic of Ireland to Northern Ireland last month.

"Shane was in Hungary and got on very well. He came back with nothing but good reports about the set-up," stated McEleney. "After that, I had a few words with Michael O'Neill. He was telling me about his plans for the future and I liked what he had to say. Michael and Stephen laid out their plans and that made my decision for me."

The midfielder also revealed that Celtic winger Paddy McCourt was instrumental in his decision to change associations and that he had been 'very supportive'.

"I spoke briefly with Paddy [McCourt] and he was very supportive. When I was over at Sunderland and feeling homesick, he was a great help to me and he's given me some great advice about my international future too.

"International football is where every player wants to be and if I keep working on my game at Derry, hopefully I'll get called up to Northern Ireland," added McEleney.