Manchester United defender Paddy McNair admits he was sad to see countryman Jonny Evans leave the club during the summer transfer window. Evans, 27, was allowed to leave Old Trafford after eight years in the first team to join West Bromwich Albion during the summer transfer window, where he reunited with ex-United teammates Darren Fletcher and Anders Lindegaard.
His final campaign at Old Trafford coincided with the emergence of McNair, who was thrown into the first team amid a defensive injury crisis, going on to make 17 appearances for the club in the 2014-15 season. During his time in the first team, McNair says he looked up to his fellow Northern Ireland defender and admits the decision that saw him leave United was tough to take.
"I was a little bit sad because he helped me a lot when I came into this team at United," McNair said in an interview with United Review. "He is a Northern Ireland international as well but I'm sure Jonny will do well at West Brom. It's definitely a good move for him with Darren Fletcher and Anders Lindegaard there as well. He's a good player and will do well there, 100%. I saw him shortly after the move with Ireland and he was happy, and excited to be playing regularly again."
While injury to Evans makes him a doubt for Northern Ireland's crucial European Championship showdown with Greece, McNair will have the chance of featuring in a game that could see his country reach their first major tournament since 1986.
A win will be enough for Michael O'Neill's side to qualify on 8 October and McNair is eager to have a role to play in France in the summer of 2016. "It is a special feeling and my Northern Ireland debut was the highlight of last season, along with my United debut against West Ham at Old Trafford," he said. "There is a lot of excitement about the team back home because we are close to qualifying for the Euros.
"It's given everyone a lift and we are excited for the match against Greece. If we win, then we'll qualify. It's in our hands and we're desperate to take our chance. Playing at the Euros would be special and, hopefully, we'll do the job. I haven't booked any holidays for next summer yet."