COOK’S RECIPE IS KEY FOR CAOLAN

The Football League Paper - - NEWS - By Nick Lough

CAOLAN Lav­ery is de­ter­mined to fight for a place in North­ern Ire­land’s squad for Euro 2016 – and be­lieves link­ing up again with Portsmouth boss Paul Cook gives him the best chance to cap­ture one of Michael O’Neill’s golden tick­ets to France.

With his play­ing chances lim­ited at par­ent club Sh­effield Wed­nes­day, Lav­ery was ea­ger to get out on loan.

He re­ceived plenty of of­fers to get some much-needed min­utes un­der his belt – and the Cana­dian-born for­ward opted for a switch to League Two high-fly­ers Portsmouth for three months.

Lav­ery had played un­der cur­rent Pom­pey boss Paul Cook dur­ing the pre­vi­ous cam­paign whilst on loan with Chester­field.

Of­fers

He told The FLP: “I had some of­fers from clubs in higher di­vi­sions, but I know the coach­ing staff here pretty well so I took the de­ci­sion to meet up with them again, and just try to play some games.

“It’s al­ways nice when you go into a club and you know the man­ager and the way he likes to play. I would say it was quite a big fac­tor in the choice I made.

“With Paul, I think it’s just the way he likes to play foot­ball – he likes to play it the proper way. He’s an hon­est man­ager when you’re do­ing well for him – and he’ll let you know when you’re not.

“He’s got a good track record in man­age­ment and it was just en­joy­able to play un­der him last sea­son, so I wanted to do it all over again.”

The 23-year-old is cur­rently en­joy­ing life on the south coast and reg­is­tered his first goal for the club in their 2-1 de­feat at Notts County last week­end.

De­spite the loss, Lav­ery has been im­pressed by the squad since sign­ing in mid-Oc­to­ber.

“The qual­ity is fan­tas­tic,” said Lav­ery. “It’s a very good team with very good play­ers, and the train­ing is qual­ity ev­ery day.

“Peo­ple might look at it and think it’s only League Two but that doesn’t mat­ter when we have a squad like we do and the train­ing is in­tense.

“I know we were beaten last week­end but, with the qual­ity in the squad, I don’t see why Portsmouth can’t go ahead and get pro­moted this sea­son.

Qual­ity

“With the foot­ball that the gaffer has us play­ing at the minute it’ll be tough for many teams to deal with.”

Al­though he is yet to earn his first in­ter­na­tional cap, the 201516 sea­son could be one of the big­gest years of Lav­ery’s ca­reer with the op­por­tu­nity there for the striker to mus­cle his way into O’Neill’s squad.

“The man­ager brought me in ini­tially over the sum­mer and just said ‘Here’s your chance, show me what you can do’, and luck­ily I ended up be­ing able to stay in­volved with the team when he sent a few other boys on their hol­i­days,” he said.

“It was great to be around and see what a happy en­vi­ron­ment it was, but he’s told me that I need to be play­ing games on a con­sis­tent ba­sis to have the best pos­si­ble chance. That stuck in the back of my mind when I made the de­ci­sion to join Portsmouth.

“As a kid, you grow up watch­ing the World Cup and the Euro­pean Cham­pi­onships and you hope one day you’ll get the chance to do it your­self.

“North­ern Ire­land have qual­i­fied now, and I got a brief taste of be­ing in­volved with the squad in a few of the qual­i­fiers – it would mean the world to me if I could go away with them.

“I just need to fo­cus on my game each week­end and hope­fully my form can book me a place on the plane.”

PIC­TURE: TGSPhoto

LAVING IT: Pom­pey’s Caolan Lav­ery takes on Mans­field’s Chris Cle­ments

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