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Paddy McCourt still keen to play for Northern Ireland


McCourt keen to continue playing for Northern Ireland

By Brian McLauchlin

Celtic winger Paddy McCourt insists that he has no intention of ending his international career after being sent bullets in the post earlier this week.

Police are investigating the source of the package, sent from Northern Ireland and addressed to McCourt at his club.

The winger, capped four times, claims to be unaffected by the incident.

"I've always said I wanted to play for Northern Ireland," he said. "Sometimes I'm in the squad, sometimes I'm not. That's the manager's decision."

And speaking of national team boss Nigel Worthington, the 27-year-old added: "Hopefully the more games I play here, the more I'll be in his mind."

Bullets sent to Niall McGinn and Celtic manager Neil Lennon last week were detected by postal workers in Mallusk, County Antrim. Those packages were posted in Northern Ireland too.

The envelope addressed to McCourt was discovered by postal staff in Glasgow.

Worthington told the BBC that he would be speaking to McCourt and McGinn.

When you set out playing football as a young lad, you want to go to the top of your game and so far getting to Celtic's been the top of mine

Celtic winger Paddy McCourt

"It is disappointing when these things happen but the players have my full support and encouragement," he said.

"Hopefully everyone can see sense, behave themselves and focus on sport.

"I will speak to them to see where they are at but I don't foresee any problems."

Lennon walked away from international football in 2002 after he was subjected to death threats.

McCourt acknowledged the pressure of playing for Celtic but is determined not to let it hinder his development.

"It took me a good year and a half before I felt ready to play," said McCourt, who signed from Derry City in 2008.

"There's been a lot of players to have played for Celtic that found it tough, playing for such a big club.

"But when you set out playing football as a young lad, you want to go to the top of your game and so far getting to Celtic's been the top of mine.

"Once you get there, there's no point in letting it get to you.

"You just have to try and get on with it and just enjoy it as best you can."

McCourt grew up a Celtic fan and says he would relish winning the Scottish Premier League title playing for his boyhood heroes.

He said: "It would mean a lot to most of the guys in the squad. This is my third season here at Celtic. The first I never really played and last year I was just a bit-part player.

"This year it would mean a lot, given I have been so much involved. It would mean the world to me."

Meanwhile, McCourt says that the series of controversial refereeing decisions involving Celtic is not having an impact in the dressing room.

Instead, he argues that the players just have to get on with trying to win games.

"Every team gets good decisions and bad decisions," he said.

"Looking back, Hamilton's goal looks clearly offside but sometimes you get them and sometimes you don't and last night that one went against us."

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see also
SFA reject Celtic Forrest appeal
18 Jan 11 |  Celtic
Bullets sent to Celtic's McCourt
12 Jan 11 |  Glasgow & West
Celtic offer McCourt new contract
19 Jul 10 |  Celtic

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