Monday 26 September 2016

St Johnstone keeper Alan Mannus unsure on Northern Ireland place for Euro 2016

Published 08/04/2016 | 13:16

St Johnstone goalkeeper Alan Mannus would love to go to Euro 2016 with Northern Ireland but is remaining cautious
St Johnstone goalkeeper Alan Mannus would love to go to Euro 2016 with Northern Ireland but is remaining cautious

St Johnstone keeper Alan Mannus admits his Euro 2016 chances are unlikely to be improved even if he shuts out Northern Ireland team-mate Josh Magennis on Saturday.

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Mannus has been a regular in the Northern Ireland squad for more than a decade but has just seven caps to his name so far.

The 33-year-old has found himself down boss Michael O'Neill's pecking order, with Hamilton number one Michael McGovern and former Rangers and Manchester United stopper Roy Carroll preferred during the Green and White Army's sensational qualification bid for this summer's finals.

Mannus has the chance to make his mark when he comes up against international colleague Magennis in this weekend's crucial Ladbrokes Premiership duel against Kilmarnock.

But the Saints keeper confessed he is not even confident he will be making the plane to France, never mind play a part in the Group C clashes with Germany, Ukraine and Poland.

He told Press Association Sport: "I don't know if club games are watched and what meaning they have, so I don't know if this weekend's match will have any extra significance with the fact I'll be playing against Josh.

"I'm just focusing on doing my best for the club. I'm not even sure how much your club form plays a part in the manager's decision - it probably comes down more to how you've done in the games for Northern Ireland.

"Josh has done really well every time we've been together in the international squad. I think he has a good chance of being involved.

"But I doubt I'll play a part in any of the games. I don't even know if I'm going yet. I wasn't there for the last squad because my wife was giving birth.

"So I'll have to see if I'm involved in the next squad for the friendlies before the Euros. It would be brilliant to be involved but I don't want to talk like I'm definitely going and end up looking stupid if I don't."

Saints are looking for the win which will guarantee themselves a top-six spot in their final game before the split, but Killie are fighting for their lives in the battle to avoid the drop.

Lee Clark's side will hope 11-goal frontman Magennis has recovered enough of his powers after a recent ankle knock but Mannus is well aware of his capabilities.

"Josh scored against us the last time we played them at their place and in general I think he's a good, effective player," said the Perth keeper. "On his day he can be really important for them. He wins a lot of headers, puts himself about and is a good finisher."

Saints could clinch their fifth consecutive top-six finish but Mannus reckons the Fair City faithful should savour this year's feat if they can pull it off, as the task will only get tougher next season.

"If we could make the top six again it would be a great achievement," he said. "At the start of the year, we always aim to avoid being in the relegation fight and people sometimes say that is being over-cautious but when you look at Hibs and Hearts going down in recent years and Dundee United and Kilmarnock struggling this year - teams which are all bigger than us - then it shows you it's a real possibility.

"So for us to get top-six so regularly is a sign of remarkable consistency.

"But I think it will get harder with Rangers and possibly Hibs coming up next year."

Press Association

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