Fergie can be a star: O’Neill

Shane Ferguson is a happy man after joining Rangers on loan for the remainder of the season.
Shane Ferguson is a happy man after joining Rangers on loan for the remainder of the season.

Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill believes Shane Ferguson’s move to Rangers can only be a good thing for him.

O’Neill reckons playing first team football is exactly what the Newcastle United man needs.

“I think it’s a good move for him as he needs to play,” he said.

“An opportunity for him to play at a massive club, OK it’s a club in a bit of turmoil at minute, but for Shane it’s a good opportunity to go and play and I think he’ll benefit from it.”

O’Neill remains confident that the talented left winger will still play a big part in his European Qualifying Championships squad.

“Shane has never been out of my squad and he missed the Romania game because he was injured and he would have been in the squad but for that,” he added.

“I have kept Shane in the squad when he has not been playing, because I believe in him so much, but yes the main thing for me is that he’s playing because I think Shane’s such an important player for us.

“He’s a player who isn’t there just to make up the numbers in the squad. He’s a young player with a huge amount of potential, I think he has been great in the time that I have been in charge.

“I’m just delighted to see him out playing first team football and get the opportunity of playing first team football and that’s the priority for me.”

Hours before the January transfer window closed two men from the city made their moves to Glasgow.

Ferguson joined Rangers on loan for the remainder of the season from Newcastle United, while Derry City winger Michael Duffy signed a four and half year deal with the Gers rivals Celtic.

For Ferguson, who still has a year and half left on his current deal with the Toon Army, getting game time at Ibrox is exactly what he needs.

Only a few weeks ago a potential move to Championship strugglers Millwall fell through at the last minute, so the chance to move to Rangers along with United team-mates Kevin Mbabu, Haris Vuckic, Remie Streete and Gael Bigirimana was too good to turn down.

Despite all the off field problems at Rangers, it’s hoped these five players from Newcastle will kick start their season as they continue in their quest to get back into the Premiership. The 23-year-old tweeted: “Happy to have signed on loan with @RangersFC until the end of season looking forward to the experience.”

Rangers are currently sit 16 points behind leaders Hearts, but they have played two games less than the Edinburgh side.

Ferguson, who has played a big part in Michael O’Neill’s side recent good form, knows playing regular first team football will help him.

Northern Ireland host Finland on March 29 knowing a win would move them a step closer to the finals in France.

O’Neill’s men are currently in second place in Group F, with nine points from four games, one behind leaders Romania and two ahead of Hungary in third.

As for Northern Ireland U21 international Duffy, he’s expected to join the development squad at Celtic Park under manager Stevie Frail with a hope of making the step to the senior team as soon as possible.