Reds loanee worthy of international call-up
Doncaster Rovers manager Richie Wellens is in no doubt that Manchester United loanee Ethan Galbraith is on the right path in his fledgling career.
The midfielder has been rewarded for a string of fine performances at League One level with a place in the senior Northern Ireland squad for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Lithuania and Italy.
After captaining the Under-21s, he will be looking to add to his two full caps for his country and show how much his game is progressing at first-team level.
Wellens, a former United youth product himself, is convinced the 20-year-old, who has played 14 times for Rovers and scored his first goal in the recent draw with Cambridge United, is moving in the right direction and worthy of this latest call-up.
"I think he deserves it," Wellens told the Doncaster Free Press. "I think he's been excellent. I am sure he will go on to have a really good international career for the next 10 to 15 years and also a great club career as well.
"We have no doubt that he's going to be a really good player. He deserves this and we're really happy for him. It is good that he keeps developing."
Galbraith had been a key performer in Premier League 2 for the Reds and Wellens is pleased he took the plunge by beating other clubs to his signature.
"I've watched him for a long time, probably three or four years, and no-one has taken the gamble to take him for his first loan," he explained. "People think 'we'll wait and see how he does on his first loan'. But, if you're in our position, you can't wait for that. His next loan move will be probably Championship level, so you'd miss the boat.
"He always had the label that he'd struggle physically but he's got a tenacious side to him. As he gets stronger and gets games in his legs, it goes such a long way to the development of a player. You can be as big and as powerful as you want, but there's no substitute for having league games in your legs."
Northern Ireland are at home to Lithuania on Friday 12 November, with the game kicking off at 19:45 GMT. Their second match of the final international window of the year sees group leaders and European champions Italy travel to Belfast on the following Monday, again with a 19:45 GMT start.
Italy and Switzerland are both on 14 points in Group C, with Ian Baraclough's side currently fourth on five points and hoping to end the qualifying programme on a high.