National coach explains how Manchester United prospect can make the fold

Northern Ireland boss Michael O'Neill says Paddy McNair still has work to do to make the national team.

Last weekend saw Louis van Gaal having to delve into his reserves for Manchester United, after a string of injuries hit his defensive options hard.

With that in mind he handed a debut to 19-year-old Paddy McNair, who did not disappoint. The Northern Irishman looked composed and solid throughout the game and received rave reviews for one intervention late on.

His diving headed clearance denied Carlton Cole a clear goal-scoring opportunity at the back post. It was a world-class piece of defending from a player who obviously has plenty of promise.

But regardless of his great Manchester United debut, McNair did not receive a call-up to the Northern Ireland squad for their upcoming Euro 2016 qualifiers against the Faroe Islands and Greece this month.

His club mate Jonny Evans is involved while other central defenders include Gareth McAuley, Craig Cathcart and Aaron Hughes - but Michael O'Neill has decided against giving McNair his first call-up to the senior squad, although that could change with injury.

O'Neill has explained the decision, telling reporters:

"I want to make sure that when we bring Paddy in, it is right for Paddy as much as it's right for us.

"He has played one game for United which is fantastic, and he showed great composure, but it's a big jump and we have enough quality in defence at the moment not to put that pressure on Paddy.

"What I would like to see him do is continue his development at United and for him to stay in and around the first team there."

It certainly seems like the right decision from the boss. McNair looks like an obvious future international, but he is still a teen and the experience quartet ahead of him are for now the best option Northern Ireland currently have.

But keep tabs on this one, as it will not be long before an all United centre back pairing takes to the field for Northern Ireland.

Register for MANCHESTER UNITED team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch