STRIKER Martin Paterson is to think long and hard about his international career after joining up with Northern Ireland for their World Cup qualifier in Portugal next Tuesday.
The 25-year-old, who netted his second goal of the season in the 4-3 defeat at Crystal Palace on Saturday, was selected for Michael O’Neill’s squad, after pulling out of the double header against Russia and Luxembourg in September to continue his recovery from a hamstring injury.
Paterson had played 45 minutes against Brighton going into the last international fortnight, having missed three games with a Grade 1 muscle tear.
But he was permitted to remain with Burnley to step up his fitness, rather than travel to Moscow, and a further decision was made not to link up with the squad in Belfast for the Luxembourg clash.
Paterson has strung seven successive starts together since - his best run since February - but is looking to manage his fitness and work out what is best for himself and his club after three seasons hampered with injury.
The former Stoke forward admitted: “It’s something I will have to think long and hard about and talk about with my family.
“I have to keep fit.
“Every game does take a lot out of me and my legs.
“The most important thing is to keep fit and play as many games as I can for my club.
“If I’m not doing that then I’m not doing my job.”
Meanwhile, joining Paterson on international duty are Sam Vokes and David Edgar.
Striker Vokes, who has only started two games since his summer move from Wolves, is again in the Wales squad for their games against Scotland and Croatia as Chris Coleman’s side look to earn their first points of World Cup qualifying.
And Edgar is with Canada for their games against Cuba and Honduras - critical ties which will determine whether the Canucks progress to the next phase of qualifying.