Northern Ireland Under-21 midfielder Charlie McCann has said the Republic of Ireland’s change of allegiance was a “simple” decision.
The Rangers teenager, who played for the Republic U17 and U19 sides, received a first call up to the Northern Ireland U21 squad on Thursday.
“I think it’s a great decision for me,” said the 19-year-old.
“It comes with some complications, but I don’t think the actual change was too difficult.”
He added: “It was a pretty straightforward decision after speaking to Northern Ireland staff.
“It’s a great development path, there’s obviously the Rangers connection and the fact that my dad and all his family are from Belfast is a big factor in the decision – they’re all proud of me representing the North Ireland.”
McCann, born in Coventry, has impressed the Scottish club’s B team since joining from Manchester United in a deal worth £750,000 last summer.
McCann is the latest player to switch between the Republic and Northern Ireland in recent years – Oxford midfielder Mark Sykes, who went in the opposite direction, received a first call to the Republic team on Friday.
McCann brushed aside criticism following the move, which was also influenced by Rangers team-mate Steven Davis, Northern Ireland captain and record holder of 132.
“You always have to be aware that (criticism) is going to come, but you don’t watch it much and pay attention to it, so it didn’t bother me too much,” he said.
“Steven and I had a few talks – he told me there was a clear path to the senior team and hopefully everything will go well.
“The number of caps he has is incredible, so he’s a great role model and you have to look up to him, follow his advice to progress in the game.
“I’m buzzing and can’t wait to start now and meet the U21 team. This is the next stage of my development and I hope I get as much experience from it to enjoy with the club as well. .”
Northern Ireland senior manager Ian Baraclough says McCann “has a great career ahead of him”, while Davis also values the teenager highly.
Injuries meant that Davis only played five minutes of first-team football for Rangers, who defeated Red Star Belgrade on aggregate in the Europa League on Thursday to reach the quarter-finals for the first time since 2008.
Davis is fit again and in the senior Northern Ireland squad for this month’s friendlies against Luxembourg and Hungary.
“It’s been tough for me but I’m absolutely delighted and the boys have been great in Belgrade – it’s an exciting journey to take and we’re all looking for more,” said the 37-year-old.
“I’m looking forward to international friendlies and it’s a good opportunity to give players playing time.
“Charlie trains regularly with us and he is making good progress. If he continues to perform in the right way and continues to push himself, he has a very good career ahead of him.
“It’s great to see him (move to Northern Ireland) because of the quality he has and the potential he has. The manager is keen to give young players a chance and we’ve seen a number of young players progress in recent years.
“Hopefully Charlie can be next and we’ll soon see him in the senior setup as well.”