Why Sunderland defender Tom Flanagan earned special praise from his international boss
Northern Ireland boss Michael O’Neill praised Tom Flanagan for his steadying influence in the Northern Ireland defence on Thursday night.
With his side set to face Germany at Windsor Park in a Euro 2020 qualifier on Monday, O’Neill rested established centre-backs Jonny Evans and Craig Cathcart for the 1-0 friendly win over Luxembourg.
Flanagan was making just his second appearance, and was paired alongside 21-year-old Ciaron Brown, the Cardiff City youngster with just one Bluebirds appearance to his name.
"The injury to Callum Morris put us in a difficult situation,” O’Neill said.
“I wasn't prepared to risk Jonny [Evans] or Craig [Cathcart] in this game so he came in at short notice, as did Tom Flanagan.
"With Tom it's his second cap and he had to be the leader in that partnership and he did it very well."
Flanagan lost his Sunderland place earlier this season, but impressed against Burnley, scoring his first goal of the season.