It was a busy few weeks for Northern Ireland’s international stars as many found new clubs ahead of a busy 2021 period for both club and country.
Sunderland has signed Rangers winger Jordan Jones on loan until the end of the season after the former Kilmarnock star struggled for game time with the current SPFL Premiership leaders. Jones has struggled to claim a place in the matchday squad after injuring himself minutes into his Old Firm debut as well as getting sent off for the horror challenge on Moritz Bauer.
He then was suspended for breaching COVID-19 restrictions alongside defence George Edmundson and neither player has played for the Gers since, with Edmundson also being sent out on loan to Derby County.
Paul Smyth, who scored the late winner for Northern Ireland on his debut against South Korea has made a loan switch to Accrington Stanley after not getting much game time during his loan spell at Charlton Athletic during the first half of the 2020-21 season with QPR being his parent club.
Northern Ireland future centre-back star Daniel Ballard has extended his loan at Blackpool from Arsenal, with the young player getting much-needed experience in League One. He made five appearances so far for Northern Ireland and was very impressive during his time in the squad.
Liverpool has signed Northern Ireland under-21 goalkeeper Liam Hughes from Celtic. The former Lisburn Youth, Portadown & Dungannon Swifts keeper has only made one appearance for his country’s under-21 side, replacing the red-carded Conor Hazard after 38 minutes against Romania.
Another Celtic youth player moving to a new club is Ben Wylie who has made a loan move to Danske Bank Premiership side Ballymena United. This is a good move for him to get experience playing alongside Northern Ireland senior and youth players from the past and present in Shay McCartan, Kofi Balmer and Trai Hume.
Wylie forced a wonder save from Dungannon Swifts’ new goalkeeper Roy Carroll who returns to the Irish Premiership after a horrible injury during his time with Linfield. The former Northern Ireland international is now 43 years old but still proving he can play in the top level of football in Northern Ireland.
Josh Doherty has made the switch to Colchester United from Crawley Town after seeing his game-time limited due to injury. His last international appearance was back in 2017 for the under-21 side against Albania, with his only international goal coming against Macedonia in 2015.
Northern Ireland under-21 star Paul O’Neill has made a shock switch to Cliftonville after Conor McMenamin joined Glentoran. He immediately found himself on the scoresheet against Crusaders and with a game against Glentoran coming up, will the deal come back to bite the Glens?