Republic of Ireland's Alex Bruce ponders switch to NI

Republic of Ireland defender Alex Bruce could be set to change international allegiance to Northern Ireland.

NI boss Nigel Worthington has confirmed to BBC Sport that he has held discussions with Leeds player Bruce, who has two Republic caps.

Both of Bruce's caps were in friendly games in 2007 and 2008 so he remains eligible for Northern Ireland.

In recent times, several Northern Ireland-born players have switched allegiance south of the border.

These include Manchester United's Darron Gibson, Everton's Shane Duffy, Stoke's Marc Wilson and Preston's Daniel Devine.

Newcastle United left-back Shane Ferguson, who earned a full Northern Ireland cap in a friendly against Italy two years ago , has also indicated in recent weeks that he is considering switching his international allegiance to the Republic.

Bruce was eligible for international football for Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and England, where he was born.

He was called up by Northern Ireland Under-21s but opted to play for the Republic Under-21s instead.

Bruce then made his Republic senior debut against Ecuador in New York in 2007 and played against Poland a year later at Croke Park but he has not represented them during Giovanni Trapattoni's reign.

We want all our players from the North of Ireland to stay in the North of Ireland

Nigel Worthington Northern Ireland manager

He also captained the Republic's B team in a game against Nottingham Forest in 2008.

Northern Ireland manager Worthington said that he would give Bruce "time and space" to make his decision.

"I've just got to be patient like everybody else and see what the outcome is," said Worthington.

"When I spoke to him he's been very enthusiastic."

Previously, Worthington has spoken of his annoyance at Northern Ireland players opting for the Republic but he played down the issue on Tuesday.

"Not that many have gone to the Republic at this moment in time and hopefully that's the way it stays," he added.

"We want all our players from the North of Ireland to stay in the North of Ireland.

"We've got a fantastic young set-up, with players coming through to be part of that. There is a wonderful spirit.

"We will welcome them into our group like we do any other."