Aberdeen star, Matty Kennedy, has been praised following his impressive Northern Ireland debut in a 1-1 draw with Romania in Belfast [Northern Ireland].

The 26-year-old was named in the starting XI for NI’s final Nations League fixture on Wednesday night, ahead of Newcastle United player, Jamal Lewis.

Northern Ireland v Romania - UEFA Nations League

Matty Kennedy warms up ahead of the Nations League fixture between Northern Ireland and Romania at Windsor Park. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)

Kennedy had initially pulled out of the squad due to injury, but after missing fixtures against Slovakia and Austria, he reported for duty and was given an opportunity on the big stage.

The hosts created a number of good chances in the first half, with the Dons man keen to bomb forward to support attacks.

He sent in crosses and showed trickery in wide areas after the break, before making way for Premier League star, Lewis, in the 66th minute.

After the game, Kennedy received praise from NI manager, Ian Baraclough.

“He’s a winger who knows how to defend and he can be a positive, forward-thinking player for us,” he said [Northern Ireland]. “He went out and showed that – especially in the second half.”

Northern Ireland v Norway - UEFA Nations League

Baraclough handed Kennedy his debut. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)

“I was pleased for him. He’s been in and around the squad a few times and not managed to get onto the pitch, so to start a game and to get his debut, he’ll be delighted with that.”

Kennedy also earned praise from Hearts forward, Liam Boyce, who was pleased with the service the debutant provided.

“For strikers, when you have someone like him on the wing, you know when he gets the ball that he’s going to be direct,” said the NI goalscorer [Northern Ireland].

“He’s going to get a cross in either way, so it just makes it easier for us that when he drops the shoulder, you know it’s coming in and you just need to make your movement and gamble on it.”

Northern Ireland v Romania - UEFA Nations League

Kennedy drives down the left wing. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)

The former St Johnstone star has had a stop-start 2020/21 season so far, but he’ll return to Aberdeen full of confidence after a positive first taste of international football.

Derek McInnes’ side face Rangers at Ibrox on Sunday and with the likes of Jonny Hayes and Niall McGinn ruled out through injury, Kennedy will be hoping for a start.

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