17 July 2024

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Shea Charles has admitted it wasn’t easy to leave treble winners Manchester City for Southampton but believes it was the right move for his club and international career.

Charles may only be 19 but is already an important player for Northern Ireland and wants to have the same influence in his day job which is why he decided to depart City in the summer for a new challenge.

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The teenager made his Premier League debut for Pep Guardiola’s side at the end of last season but was mature enough to realise first team opportunities at City would be limited moving forward.

With his ability in midfield or defence, he should get plenty at Russell Martin’s Saints who have promotion from the Championship in their sights.

Quizzed on how hard it was exiting City where he came through the ranks, Charles said: “It’s my boyhood club so it wasn’t easy but it was clear that Southampton was the right option for me.

“The manager plays a good style of football and it really suits me so that really attracted me to the club.

“I think the move is huge because I’m playing against men every week which coming into the (international) camp allows me to come in and go straight into the games and be able to play like I like to play.”

Not for the first time in a Northern Ireland shirt, Charles showed touches of quality in Thursday night’s disappointing 4-2 defeat in Slovenia ending any hopes of the team qualifying for the Euro 2024 Finals.

Charles said: “I thought we were good going forward but then when we scored it was like we would then concede straight away. It was quite frustrating, we lost any momentum we had so there were positives and negatives to take.

“It’s a frustrating one because we went with four at the back. We’re used to five at the back. We expected to be better going forward which was good but we were maybe a bit more vulnerable and they had two good strikers so it was tough on that part.”

On his own display, Charles added: “I thought I did alright, I thought I did well, just playing that sitting role (in midfield) which I like and then going to right back in the end. I can play in other positions so I thought I did alright.

Shea Charles: Young midfielder joins Southampton from Man City in £15m deal  | Football News | Sky Sports

“It feels like I’m just part of the team now, it’s a good feeling.”

Next up for Northern Ireland is Kazakhstan away on Sunday as the second half of the qualifying group begins.

Charles said: “I feel like these next few games are about getting all the points we can, to try and push the other teams, and push on from the performance against Slovenia, working on the defending and making sure we secure our back door.”


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