Fleetwood Town right-back Conor McLaughlin says he is going to treat Euro 16 as a ‘shop window’ to try and seal a move to a higher division.
The right-back was named in Michael O’Neill’s 23-man Northern Ireland squad and admitted he is hoping to perform well at the tournament in France and attract attention from Championship and possibly Premier League clubs.
McLaughlin, 24, is expected to start in Northern Ireland’s opening Group C fixture against Poland in France on June 12 after claiming a regular starting spot in the qualifiers alongisde Premier League defenders, West Brom trio Gareth McAuley, Jonny Evans, Chris Brunt – who is now injured – and Watford’s Craig Cathcart.
He says he is grateful for what Fleetwood have provided him with but that he is hoping to push on from League One after the tournament.
He said: “I have to treat it like (a shop window). I want to play at as high a level as I can, there’ll be few of the lads like that. No better stage than a major championship.
“Obviously, I’m grateful for what Fleetwood have provided me with, playing week in, week out, that’s what I needed when I was younger and that’s helped me get into the squad. I’ll always be grateful to them – but obviously I want to push on.”
Dundee-based paper The Courier is reporting that Town are interested in signing Dundee’s out-of-contract full-back Paul McGinn if McLaughlin leaves.
McGinn rejected the offer of a new contract at the Scottish Premiership club last month.
Fleetwood boss Steven Pressley says the club has to be prepared for the possibility of receiving offers for McLaughlin, who is tied down to another year at Highbury.
He said: “Conor has done terrifically well for us this season. I’m hopefully going out to France to watch him play in one of his games.
“Part of the recruitment process is that we are aware Conor might play himself into a position were the club receives offers.
“He has one more year before his contract runs out (in summer 2017) and we have to take that into consideration.
“These things have to be done right. If (the right offers) happen we do have to know our options.
“We are aware of that, we are looking and we have to be ready for that possibility.”