McGinn grateful to Lennon
Northern Ireland and Celtic's Niall McGinn has thanked Neil Lennon for aiding his recovery from injury.
Last Updated: 06/10/10 8:55pm
Northern Ireland and Celtic's Niall McGinn hopes to play a 'big part' against Italy after the support of Neil Lennon helped him recover from an injury nightmare.
The midfielder has been sidelined for five months after breaking his right foot in a training ground accident, but he is now back to fitness and is raring to go.
McGinn has yet to make a first-team appearance for Celtic this season, however, the 23-year-old is hoping to face former world champions Italy in Euro 2012 qualifying on Friday night.
Speaking ahead of the match he expressed his gratitude for the encouragement of Celtic boss Lennon, who called time on his own Northern Ireland career after receiving death threats.
McGinn said: "Neil Lennon has been very supportive. He was on at me all the time wondering if I was going to get called up or not.
"He still takes a big interest in Northern Ireland and asks how the players are getting on and what they are up to.
"It is good to see him showing an interest as obviously he played for Northern Ireland.
"I am feeling fine now. It has been a long time since I played for Celtic. I came back three weeks ago and played a reserve game against Motherwell and training has been going well.
"I have been in the Celtic squad the last three games but haven't stripped. I am ready to get going and hopefully I will have a big part to play against Italy."
Northern Ireland go into the match on the back of 1-0 victory against Slovenia in their opening qualifier and now McGinn is looking forward to returning to Windsor Park.
He said: "I have enjoyed every moment at the ground. The fans have been brilliant since I made my debut and there has been a really good buzz about the place.
"Growing up you want to play against teams like Italy. They used to be the world champions so we have to respect them. But it is a challenge we are all looking forward to. We will try and get at them and score some goals.
"We have got to push on after Slovenia and get as many points as possible, especially at home. I am sure the fans will be raring to go again."