Saville explains Northern Ireland links – as Millwall mark record number of international call-ups

GEORGE Saville was in dreamland on Tuesday night – after hitting a stunning brace on the day of his first international call-up as Millwall came from behind to beat Reading.

Saville struck twice in the last 10 minutes as Millwall won their third successive league game at home to move up to 12th in the Championship.

Saville, 24, spoke to Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill last week after O’Neill discovered his family links. The Lions midfielder’s late grandmother, Patricia, was born in Enniskillen in County Fermanagh where Saville used to visit as a youngster.

Saville was one of six Millwall players named in international squads this week, with Aiden O’Brien also called up by the Republic of Ireland for the first time.

That’s a club record, and there are 10 players in the current Millwall squad – including Steve Morison, James Meredith, Mahlon Romeo and Jimmy Abdou – who have been part of senior international squads.

Northern Ireland are guaranteed second place behind Germany in Group C of World Cup qualifying, meaning Saville could be heading to Russia next summer if they win a play-off tie.

“It’s been a fantastic week for me and my family. I got the news about Northern Ireland which was a proud moment and then it was great to get three points against Reading,” Saville said.

“We hadn’t looked too much into it but we thought it was the right time now. I’ve been playing regular football for Millwall, and the manager (O’Neill) has found out about it and decided it was the right time to put me in the squad.

“One of the guys from the (I)FA rang me to speak about the eligibility and stuff, and the manager rang me last week and seemed keen for me to go.

“I’m obviously very excited. It’s a great opportunity for me to go and play international football.”

Saville will join Conor McLaughlin and Shane Ferguson in the squad.

“I spoke to the boys here and know a couple of the boys there already,” Saville added. “They’re good lads and they have a great opportunity next year to go to the World Cup.

“Whatever I can do to help the squad then I’ll do that.”

Saville was keen to recognise his club form this season was key to his call-up.

He said: “Without Millwall the opportunity for international football doesn’t come along. The manager, Livers (Dave Livermore) and all the backroom staff have put their faith in me to perform.

“Hopefully I’m performing week-in, week-out for them and the football club.

“We’ve a very good squad here, very good individuals. I feel the team is coming together quite nicely, we’re picking up results, putting in performances where people had been writing us off before the game had even started.

“There are a lot of individuals that can go on to the international scene.”

Image: Millwall FC

John Kelly