McCullough hoping to jet home for Doncaster’s derby day

From left to right Corry Evans, Luke McCullough, of Northem Ireland and Chile's Alexis Sanchez and Jorge Valdivia during a friendly soccer match in Valparaiso, Chile, Wednesday, June 4, 2014. (AP Photo/Luis Hidalgo)
From left to right Corry Evans, Luke McCullough, of Northem Ireland and Chile's Alexis Sanchez and Jorge Valdivia during a friendly soccer match in Valparaiso, Chile, Wednesday, June 4, 2014. (AP Photo/Luis Hidalgo)
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Northern Ireland defender Luke McCullough hopes to complete a whirlwind 24 hours to play in tomorrow’s South Yorkshire derby between Doncaster Rovers and Sheffield United.

The 20-year-old is in Bucharest, Romania, for tonight’s Euro 16 qualifier, but he will then jet back to England tomorrow morning hoping to play for Rovers at the Keepmoat Stadium at 3pm.

Rovers manager Paul Dickov is eager for the former Manchester United youngster to feature against United in their League One clash, as he is already without defender Paul Butler (unable to play due to loan deal from the Blades) and midfielder Dean Furman (international duty).

Goalkeeper Sam Johnstone will play tomorrow after being released from England Under-21 duties this week.

“Sam has been here all week, and will play Saturday.

“I never thought I would thank England, but we thank Gareth Southgate for that,” joked Scotsman Dickov.

“Luke is pencilled in to be booked on a flight for Saturday morning to come back. What we will have to do is assess the situation when he gets back here, whether he plays (today), or comes on, how he’s feeling.

“Romania’s not that far away, it’s a shortish flight and there’s no time difference.

“If Luke’s not playing for Ireland, there’s a good chance he will be involved on Saturday.

“The one thing when players go away with Northern Ireland on international duty, they get looked after fantastically well. Things like nutrition, recovery time, the amount they train.

“Luke will be well looked after, so if he’s feeling okay – and he’s an honest lad – and we can get him back here…

“We won’t know fully, until Saturday morning, whether he’s going to be available or not.

“Dean won’t be available, but hopefully Sam and Luke will be.

“At one point, maybe 10 days ago, it looked like we would be without all three and still we would have had to play the game.

“It’s frustrating. Sam is an emergency loan (from Manchester United); if he was a standard loan, we could have got the game called off which seems a little bit silly to me.

“We knew we were without Andy Butler, so we could have been without our goalkeeper and two centre-halves, who have been playing really well for us.

“You get punished for players being successful,” added the Rovers manager.