Rangers winger Ross McCausland proud of dream Northern Ireland debut

McCausland followed his first Rangers start with international recognition.

Rangers winger Ross McCausland proud of dream Northern Ireland debut despite Finland loss SNS Group

Ross McCausland admitted he was shocked to discover he would make his Northern Ireland debut on Friday as a whirlwind week for the Rangers winger continued.

The 20-year-old only made his first Rangers start at the weekend and was then drafted in to Northern Ireland’s senior squad from the under-21s on Monday after an injury ruled out Paul Smyth.

Just days later, McCausland was a surprise inclusion on Michael O’Neill’s team-sheet for Friday’s Euro 2024 qualifier away to Finland.

Although the night ended in a disappointing 4-0 defeat in Helsinki, it was still a special moment for the emerging talent.

“It has been a dream from a very young age to make my senior debut and to do that is a proud moment for me and my family,” McCausland said.

“I was supposed to join up with the 21s and then David Currie (the Irish FA’s head of international administration) gave me a phone call after the Livingston game and said ‘Michael wants to bring you in’.

“I was so chuffed because I didn’t think I could get to a higher point than what I had been for that whole week, coming on in the Europa League (a 2-1 win over Sparta Prague) and then getting my first start for Rangers, so I was buzzing.

“I found out (I was starting) after a couple of days and the first day of training basically. (O’Neill) had shaped the team out and I had seen I was in it. I was a bit shocked but I was looking forward to the challenge.”

McCausland took up an attacking position on the right side of midfield, with both he and Isaac Price looking to get forward and support Dion Charles.

Before the game changed – with Finland goals either side of half-time from Joel Pohjanpalo (penalty) and Daniel Hakans – a confident-looking McCausland played a big role in what had been a bright start from Northern Ireland, setting up one early chance for Price.

“The week I had does help in a situation like that,” he said. “It is pretty normal to have some nerves.

“It is one of the biggest moments of my career, being streamed live on TV and with all the fans there – it is a proud moment because I know so many people back home are watching and supporting.”

McCausland will want to remember the occasion much more than the result, but is now hoping to get another chance in Northern Ireland’s final Group H fixture at home to Denmark on Monday.

“We are disappointed and it is not a good result for us,” he said. “We didn’t come here to lose 4-0. We thought it was an opportunity to get points on the board. The boys gave their all but it just wasn’t to be our night.

“I’ve never actually played at Windsor so that is one of my aims. I would love to play on Monday and make my debut at Windsor.”

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