Burnley’s Mitchell is delighted with his Under 21 NI call up

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Portrush man Conor Mitchell has been included in the Northern Ireland U21 squad.

It’s the big goal keepers first call up for the under 21 side, and he told Times Sport this week that he’s thrilled.

Mitchell (19), who is on the books at Burnley, is currently taking part in a one month loan at Sheffield FC.

And the world’s oldest football club founded in 1857, is delighted to have the Northern Ireland man in their ranks.

“It’s an initial one month loan to Sheffield FC.” explained Conor, a former Dominican College pupil.

“It’s a great little club.

“They have a good set up and all the people there, staff, players and fans have made me feel really welcome and at home, so I thank them for that.”

Conor is still training with Burnley during the week, but will run out for Sheffield in the Evo Stik South Division at the weekends.

Speaking about the loan move Conor said: “It’s a good opportunity for me to get out and play some real football as such.

“Don’t get me wrong playing for Burnley under 21s is a good test.

“But, there’s nothing like playing at 3 o’clock on a Saturday in front of a good crowd.

“It’s going to be a really good experience for me.

“I’m sure there’ll be highs and lows during the loan spell, but I’m convinced I’ll finish it as a better goalkeeper, both physically and mentally tougher.”

It’s a monotonous two hour drive for Conor from his home in Burnley to Sheffield, but he doesn’t mind: “It’s a two hour drive over to Sheffield for home games

“But I don’t mind it - it’s a very straightforward drive.

“Although I would say that the motorways in England are a little busier to drive on than the Portrush roads I was used to,” he joked.

Speaking about being included in the Under 21 side for ties against Scotland and Iceland in the Euro qualifiers, the proud Portrush man said he’s thrilled and hopes to stake a claim for the number one jersey.

“It’s my first call up for the under 21’s and I am really pleased.

“I’ve been working really hard to try and put myself in contention for this squad, and it’s nice to see it paying off.

“It’s always an honour to get called up for your country, and I’m really looking forward to meeting up with the squad at the end of this month.”

The former Portrush FC player has his sights set on a spot in Michael O’Neill’s Northern Ireland squad.

And he knows that his hard work and dedication will need to continue if he’s to achieve this.

“The hard work doesn’t end here.

“My next goal has to be nailing down a regular spot in the under 21 squad and long term, putting myself in contention for the seniors.

“ I’m only one group off that set up now, so I’ll work tirelessly to keep improving and hopefully stake my claim for a spot.”