Sunday 22 April 2018

Will Grigg wants to remain on fire for Northern Ireland

Will Grigg scored his first Northern Ireland goal on Friday night
Will Grigg scored his first Northern Ireland goal on Friday night

Northern Ireland striker Will Grigg wants to keep scoring at international level to make sure his song does not disappear from the terraces.

The 24-year-old netted for the first time for his country in Friday night's 3-0 win over Belarus, coming off the bench to lash in a half-volley late on as Michael O'Neill's men delivered the perfect Belfast send-off ahead of Euro 2016.

Grigg is expected to be included in the 23-man squad O'Neill announces on Saturday lunchtime and the chant that a Wigan fan invented for the prolific forward has already been inherited by The Green and White Army.

Having heard the 'Freed From Desire' adaptation sung throughout the game at Windsor Park, Grigg delighted the Northern Ireland faithful by adding a third goal after Kyle Lafferty and Conor Washington had both scored.

"I think I've proved throughout my career that I score goals and the pressure doesn't really faze me," said Grigg, whose 25 goals earned him the Sky Bet League One golden boot.

"I've also got to keep up with the song - if I stop scoring, the song stops! I've still got to keep scoring to make it carry on."

Although Grigg's purple patch led to his Northern Ireland recall, he appears to be behind both Lafferty and Washington in the pecking order.

Washington's inclusion has forced O'Neill to revisit his formation and experiment with a 5-3-2, though if Grigg had his way he would be even more attack-minded in France.

"I'm trying to get three or four," he added of persuading O'Neill to start with at least two strikers.

"We've worked on the two formations, we've got a few in the locker so it's a good thing to have again, we can chop and change and that's up to the manager to decide.

"Three strikers have scored, there's definitely competition. All four of us have something else, we're all different in what we add to the team. It's going to be a tough decision for the manager but one we'll thrive on.

"You're looking over the years, there probably hasn't been as much competition as there has been now. It's healthy, good for the side. To have the different options for different teams in games, it's good to have."

Grigg's popularity was epitomised by his reception when he came on on the hour mark for Lafferty, whose seven goals in qualification fired Northern Ireland to their first major tournament since the 1986 World Cup.

While Lafferty was afforded cheers and generous applause, the decibels only went up as Grigg arrived.

"When your top scorer for your country at this moment in time is getting not as loud a cheer it's something special," Grigg noted.

"Kyle did very well and got his goal again but it's nice to have the fans backing me up."

Press Association

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