Nigel Worthington insists the “door is still open” for Paddy McCourt to return to the Northern Ireland fold.
The talented Celtic midfielder has been left out of Worthington’s recent squads while a host of new faces have been drafted in, including youngsters Johnny Gorman of Wolves and Manchester United duo Corry Evans and Oliver Norwood, none of whom have played a competitive first-team game for their respective clubs.
McCourt, 26, has been in and out the Hoops’ side since moving from Derry City in 2008 but new Parkhead boss Neil Lennon handed him a boost this summer in the shape of a new three-year contract.
And his winning goal for Celtic at Inverness in their Clydesdale Bank Premier League opener yesterday indicated the Irishman is fit and ready to fill the boots of Aiden McGeady, who completed his £9.5m move to Spartak Moscow last week.
Worthington said that McCourt simply has to keep fit and keep playing and he will be in contention for the upcoming Euro 2012 qualifier away to Slovenia next month.
“The door is still open for Paddy,” he said.
“He was injured a lot over the last year with different bumps and things and that got in the way.
“We all know the quality he possesses but I’ve told Paddy that he has to work hard when he plays, as do all the players in the team, and he knows that.
“But if he gets a regular spot at Celtic then he will be in my plans.
“I brought the youngsters in to give them some experience, to give them a chance but the door is still open for everyone.
“At the moment it’s too early to talk about my squad for the Slovenia game but I will be looking at the situation over the coming weeks.”