Ethan Galbraith

Galbraith: International debut felt 'unreal'

Manchester United Under-23s midfielder Ethan Galbraith has described his senior international debut for Northern Ireland as 'unreal', following a late call-up to Michael O'Neill's squad.

The 18-year-old was promoted from his country's Under-21s on Thursday and ended up coming off the bench for the closing stages of the 1-0 win over Luxembourg in a friendly at Windsor Park.

The match was an opportunity for coach O'Neill to blood some youngsters and Galbraith enjoyed getting his first taste of any senior competitive football in such an intense atmosphere.

Ethan Galbraith wears the familiar green shirt of Northern Ireland on his senior international debut
Galbraith wears Northern Ireland's famous green shirt in his first senior game.

“I'm lost for words,” Galbraith told BBC Northern Ireland. “It was absolutely unreal, especially in front of a big crowd and at Windsor Park. Even walking out in the stadium was incredible.

”Warming up on the side, I felt like everyone was just watching me and I was getting a bit nervous but then, when Michael gave me the call, the nerves went away and the adrenaline started kicking in, so it was good.

“I enjoyed it. I tried to get on the ball, but the ball wouldn't fall for me. Eventually, when it did fall for me, I played a ball through to Shane [Ferguson] and I was feeling quite confident.

”I thought it would have taken me a bit longer [to settle] but felt I started out alright.

“The season is shaping up very well for me. I've been getting a lot of game time with United and to play tonight was unreal.”

O'Neill explained that he wanted to have a look at his promising youth players and offer them the incentive to work hard in order to gain another cap.

“Alfie [McCalmont, the Leeds defender] and Ethan came off the bench," he said. “They are kids. Ethan is an Under-19 player and will play in those finals for us next year. He is progressing for Manchester United for their Under-23s.

"We know what type of footballer he is. He is a lovely player, so easy on the eye. It was nice to give him the motivation and focus to kick on in his career.

Blackpool's Jordan Thompson, who was with United's Academy until 2015, made his first Northern Ireland start in the match.

Dylan Levitt walks out of the St James' Park tunnel.
Dylan Levitt could be set for a big night with Wales in the European Championship qualifiers.

Another of United's Under-23s squad, Dylan Levitt, is with Ryan Giggs's Wales for their Euro 2020 qualifier against Azerbaijan in Group E of the competition on Friday night.

The cultured midfielder could follow Galbraith in being a Reds' Academy player who makes his senior international bow before appearing for our first team.

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