Liam Boyce bounces back from Euro 2016 blow to put himself at centre stage for NI

Liam Boyce is ready to answer Northern Ireland’s call having bounced back from his Euro 2016 omission to become the Scottish Premiership’s leading scorer.

Boyce, 26, is the form forward in the squad with Conor Washington and Jamie Ward unavailable and Kyle Lafferty still out of favour at club level.

It’s a big change from 12 months ago when Will Grigg pipped Boyce for a place in the Euro 2016 squad.

“I just put it behind me and tried to look towards the future,” said Boyce.

“I knew coming up to the Euros, Griggsy had better form than me in the second half of the season.

“I’d had an injury too and he was banging in goals right, left and centre. I sort of expected it (that I’d miss out) although that didn’t make it easy.

“I knew I was beaten by a better man at the time.”

Liam Boyce’s goals helped keep Ross County in the Scottish Premiership

Boyce’s 23 goals for Ross County

But 12 months on, Ross County’s Boyce has linked up with the Northern Ireland squad after a run of 10 goals in his final 10 games of his club season.

His late run of goals brought his season’s tally up to 23 and Ross County assistant boss Billy Dodds has admitted that the club would have been embroiled in a relegation battle but for Boyce’s strike-rate.

Boyce accepts his spirits are high as he prepares for Friday’s home friendly against New Zealand, which is a warm-up for the crucial World Cup qualifier in Azerbaijan on 10 June.

“I am confident at the minute after ending the season in good form. I’ll try and keep doing what I’m doing.

“I didn’t get picked for the Euros and not having a good second half to the season.

“This season I just wanted to come back in and show that wasn’t a trend and have a good second half to the season. Thankfully I was able to do that.”

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