Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill has namechecked Nottingham Forest starlet Aaron Donnelly when discussing his next squad. As a result, the 19-year-old might be in line for a first senior call-up.

The Green and Whites face Denmark and Kazhakstan later this month. O’Neill will be missing several top players and that could lead to a number of youngsters getting the nod.

Donnelly Forest
Photo; Jon Hobley; MI News; NurPhoto; Getty Images

Donnelly enjoyed a solid 2022/23 campaign. He spent the first half of the campaign with the under-21s but headed out on loan to Port Vale during the January transfer window.

Under the influence of Darrell Clarke, he showcased his class. He typically operated as a left-sided central defender and made 20 appearances for the Valiants as they survived relegation in League One.

Now, O’Neill has hinted that he might be set to receive his first call-up to the senior ranks. The player can also operate as a left-back and that level of versatility could prove useful on the international stage.

The manager told the Belfast Telegraph: “We had younger players in the squad for March and we will have younger players in the squad again.

“These lads have been terrific, they are a good group and we have a nice mix of local boys like Liam McStravick, Terry Devlin, Matthew Lusty and Aaron Wightman.

“Then, you have the likes of Aaron Donnelly who has been out playing six months of League One football at Port Vale on loan from Nottingham Forest.”

Donnelly namechecked by O’Neill and Forest man could earn call-up

This would cap a wonderful first season in men’s football for the Forest youngster. It’s certainly fair to say that he’s firmly in Steve Cooper’s mind and he made his debut for the Reds back in August.

At 19-years-old, he has bags of time on his side. He’s made five appearances for the under-21 ranks but in the back of his mind he will be craving a senior call-up from O’Neill.

Donnelly Forest
Photo; Mick Walker; CameraSport; Getty Images

Donnelly started the Carabao Cup second round clash against Grimsby during the 2022/23 campaign. He didn’t disappoint and Cooper called him ‘excellent’ after the 3-0 victory.

It would be a great achievement for Donnelly to get the nod to be in O’Neill’s squad this month. Now, he will be waiting by the phone to see if he does get the nod.

Related Topics