Northern Ireland boss explains surprise first call up for Sunderland defender

Northern Ireland boss Ian Baraclough says Trai Hume is ready to 'put a case forward' for selection after winning his first senior call up.

Hume joins Corry Evans in the squad for upcoming fixtures against Luxembourg and Hungary, despite limited game time since his January move to Sunderland.

Baraclough says he watched Hume's debut at Cheltenham Town, and felt he was the best player on the pitch.

"He's gone to Sunderland at the right time having had a really good season here [in Northern Ireland]," Baraclough said.

Trai Hume has won his first senior international call up

"He went on loan to Ballymena and then got into the Linfield team, David Healy did a really good job with Trai in particular.

"You can see he was physically ready. I saw his Sunderland debut and I thought he was excellent, I thought he was the best player on the pitch and that says something about a young lad. He was assured.

"The right back spot is very competitive at the moment. I'm not saying he's there to stay but he's got the attributes to put a case forward.

"He can play right-sided centre back as well, particularly in a three.

"He's suspended for the U21s game against Slovakia, so he'll get some experience in with us [instead]."

The 19-year-old started Alex Neil's first game in charge at AFC Wimbledon but the head coach has generally preferred the more experienced Carl Winchester either at right back or on the right of a back three.

Winchester has not been included in the Northern Ireland squad.

Speaking last month Neil said Hume 'had really good potential' but said he would not expose him to too much League One football too early after his switch.

"He's certainly got developing to do, we've got to remember that we're talking about a player who has come through at Linfield and has played 20-odd games in his career,” Neil said.

"We're not talking about a seasoned full-back here who has done it for years and years. We're talking about a young lad who has got really good potential, and we need to bed him in and give him opportunities when and if it's appropriate and right."

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