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Millwall winger Shane Ferguson heading to Euro 2016

1 June 2016

But there is heartbreak for goalkeeper David Forde

Millwall winger Shane Ferguson has been included in Michael O'Neill's 23-man Northern Ireland squad for Euro 2016.

Ferguson, a revelation for The Lions both on the left wing and on occasion at left-back since joining on a permanent deal from Newcastle United in January, joined up with the Northern Ireland squad hours after Sunday's Play-Off Final at Wembley.

O'Neill's squad flew out of George Best City airport to Austria on Monday morning, where they continue their preparations ahead of Saturday's friendly international in Slovakia,

From Austria, 24-year-old Shane and his team-mates will fly to France ahead of their opening Euro 2016 match against Poland in Nice on Sunday 12th June.

Northern Ireland, who have been drawn in Group C, follow up with games on Thursday, June 16th June, against Ukraine at Parc Olympique Lyonnais, Lyon and then face world champions Germany at Parc de Princes, Paris, on Tuesday, 21st June.

There was bitter disappointment, however, for Shane's Millwall team-mate David Forde, who was omitted from Martin O'Neill's final Republic of Ireland squad when it was announced late on Tuesday night.

Proud Irishman Fordey started in Ireland's qualifiers against Georgia, Gibraltar, Scotland and Germany - against whom he produced a Man of the Match display - but after losing his place to Shay Given for the 1-1 draw with Poland in Dublin, he hasn't featured in a competitive match since.

However after getting some game time in Tuesday night's friendly with Belarus, he might have expected to be be on the plane to France, only for manager Martin O'Neill to opt for Keiren Westwood instead.

"David Forde is obviously a disappointment because he has been a big part of proceedings," said O'Neill.

"He made this wonderful save against Germany, a great, great save and we end up getting that point, which eventually takes us to France. That's a disappointment to him. He has been excellent for the squad, and about the place too.

"It's a shame, it's going to happen and that's the nature of the game."

There have been ringing endorsements too, on how graciously Fordey took the news perhaps best summed up by Mikey Stafford's article here in which he is described as the gentleman we all know him to be.

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