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Beattie puts studies on hold for NI

Beattie earned her Northern Ireland debut against Scotland in JuneVenues: Inver Park and Windsor Park Dates: Friday 17 and Tuesday 21 September Kick-off: 19:00 BSTCoverage: Live stream on BBC iPlayer and BBC Sport website; live text commentary with in-game clips; match report and highlights onlineNorthern Ireland forward Kerry Beattie has revealed she has put her studies on hold in order to chase her dream of making Kenny Shiels’ squad for next summer’s European Championship.

Beattie made her NI debut in the friendly defeat by Scotland in June.

The Glentoran striker now hopes to establish herself as a regular during the upcoming World Cup qualifying campaign, which begins on Friday.

“I was supposed to be going to university,” revealed Beattie.

“But I’ve decided to take the year out to focus on trying to get into that squad. I was going to study sport and exercise science, do a PGCE and hopefully become a PE teacher.

“It’s all been put on hold. I’m lucky that I’m in a position where I’ve just finished my A-levels so I can take the year out. It actually came at a really good time for me.”

‘It’s a massive task’ – Can Northern Ireland upset the odds once more?Northern Ireland’s World Cup qualifiers to be streamed live by BBC Sport NIDemi Vance and Rachel Furness return for home qualifiersBeattie earned her spot in Shiels’ squad for the World Cup qualifying double-header against Luxembourg and Latvia thanks to her free-scoring form with Glentoran.

The Glens’ leading scorer, the teenager struck four times as the east Belfast side hammered rivals Linfield 9-0 to move into top spot in the Women’s Premiership on Friday evening.

Glentoran hammer Linfield 9-0 to go top of Women’s PremiershipAnd with Everton striker Simone Magill ruled out through injury, in addition to featuring against Luxembourg on Friday, Beattie hopes to fulfil her lifelong dream of representing Northern Ireland at Windsor Park with Tuesday’s game against Latvia marking the senior women’s side’s return to the Belfast stadium for the first time since 2010.

“Ever since I was a little girl, all I’ve ever talked about is playing at Windsor Park with Northern Ireland,” said the Lisburn native.

“Obviously being a part of the squad is amazing, but if I can get out on that pitch and play, it will be a dream come true.

“I think, at 18, being able to play at Windsor with your national team is pretty incredible. We’re all really looking forward to playing at the National Stadium – it’s a big occasion for everybody.”

‘Big step-up’ Having created history by securing qualification to the Euros finals for the first time, Northern Ireland begin their quest for a debut World Cup appearance with two home games they are expected to win before a much tougher-looking October window which will see them travelling to England before hosting Austria.

And Shiels’ squad is once again stocked with in-form players from the Women’s Premiership with Beattie one of a seven-strong Glentoran contingent alongside five from Cliftonville and three from Crusaders Strikers.

But Beattie admits that even with the women’s domestic scene in Northern Ireland going from strength to strength, nothing can prepare a player for the rigours of the international game.

“It’s obviously a big step-up from domestic to international,” she admitted.

“But I think the league has gotten better and obviously we have better players. Lauren Wade went over to Glasgow and came back – players like that in the league is really exciting.

“I don’t think there is anything that can actually prepare you for an international game. When I stepped on to the pitch against Scotland, I’ve never experienced anything as intense as it was.

“But the domestic league has certainly gotten better and it does set us up for the internationals.”

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