Michael O'Neill hopes Chris Brunt makes Northern Ireland return

Chris Brunt
Chris Brunt
International friendly: Northern Ireland v South Korea
Venue: Windsor Park, Belfast Date: Saturday, 24 March Kick-off: 14:00 GMT
Coverage: Live commentary on BBC Radio Ulster FM and the BBC Sport website

Northern Ireland boss Michael O'Neil is trying to persuade Chris Brunt not to retire after the midfielder took a break from international football.

The 33-year-old West Brom player, who has won 65 caps, opted out of Saturday's friendly with South Korea.

"He won't play in the summer tour and he's a lot to deal with at West Brom as they fight to stay in the Premier League," said O'Neill.

"He knows my thoughts on it - everyone would love Chris to play on."

O'Neill added that Brunt's influence had been proved by his absence from Euro 2016 with a cruciate knee ligament injury.

The manager said: "If he decides to call it a day, we will respect that. He's been a great player for Northern Ireland and we missed him badly in France to be honest.

"It was a huge blow for him to suffer a cruciate knee ligament injury because he gives us so much in terms of his set-piece delivery and quality general play.

"We hope with a little time away, he's in the right frame of mind to continue for another campaign."

Meanwhile, O'Neill is using the disappointment of missing out on a place in the World Cup finals as motivation in the Windsor Park game against South Korea, a team who are going to Russia.

"It's good to play teams that are going to the World Cup," he said.

"And we chose the upcoming games with that in mind. You want to beat teams going to the World Cup because it almost verifies that we should be there."

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