Paddy McNair is the “merit” captain of the 50th Northern Ireland national team

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The proud Paddy McNair admits his experience in Northern Ireland will come full circle tonight in Geneva.

cNair had the honor of capturing the team against Switzerland at the Stade de Genève in his 50th appearance for his country.

The 26-year-old, as a young boy from Ballynure, was brought to Windsor Park by his parents to cheer on his heroes.

Now he will rule Northern Ireland, wearing the captain’s armband and he concedes it will probably be one of the sweetest times of his life.

“Yes, it’s a very proud moment for me and my family,” McNair said ahead of practice yesterday. I grew up as a fan of Northern Ireland and attended every game and never thought one day that I would be captain and lead my country.

“Obviously there is a tradition in the team that on your fifth cap you are named captain, so when the manager told me I was going to be captain for the night and that will be a very proud moment. “

Steven Davis is the regular captain, but when he finally calls it a day, McNair and Stuart Dallas would be the obvious candidates, if Jonny Evans isn’t around.

When asked if he would like the role on a more permanent basis, McNair replied, “I haven’t really thought about it, I’m just focusing on what I need to do, but if it came to the future, I would certainly be interested. “

Manager Ian Baraclough has confirmed he has no hesitation in gifting the Middlesbrough player the armband.

“I love tradition above all else and I think most players are anxious to do it,” said Baracalough. “Paddy said he was looking forward to this. It might not be for everyone, but the way he plays he sets an example and has done it in his previous 49 caps. The preparation does not change for him because he is a captain. I’m not even going to ask him to do a speech ahead of time, I just want him to go and enjoy it.

Davis is happy to put the armband back on for the night admitting, “Paddy just has to get out and focus and play his own game. Every time he does that he always brings a lot to the team and that’s important.

“It’s great that he amassed 50 caps at the age of 26 and fully deserves the armband.”

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