Bailey Peacock-Farrell finds solace in Northern Ireland’s stability amidst club setbacks

    Bailey Peacock-Farrell’s quest for regular club football has taken him to Denmark this season, but the Northern Ireland goalkeeper has never had to worry about getting a cap for his country.

    After being selected by Michael O’Neill at the start of the 2018 Nations League campaign, Peacock-Farrell has since cemented his spot, earning his 41st cap in Sunday’s 1-0 defeat to Kazakhstan in Astana.

    The 26-year-old Burnley goalkeeper has made as many appearances for Northern Ireland as any of the five professional clubs on his CV except Sheffield Wednesday, for whom he has made 47 appearances during his loan spell in 2021/22.

    Peacock-Farrell has now joined Danish side AGF Aarhus on a season-long loan, but throughout frustrating spells at both Leeds and Burnley, it has been Northern Ireland that has been a constant in his career.

    “When I go I try, like everyone else, to play to the best of my ability and overall I’ve done well so far,” Peacock-Farrell told the PA news agency.

    “The club level wasn’t amazing and there were inconsistencies in terms of playing time. For the current coach (Michael O’Neill) and the previous coach (Ian Baraclough) to stay with me is obviously a very good vote of confidence.

    “Right now I’m just trying to improve at club level and that’s the goal for this year.”

    Peacock-Farrell regularly emerged as a full-back for Northern Ireland when opportunities at club level were lacking.

    “It’s 10 games a year (with Northern Ireland) so when you only get 10-15 games at club level in cups and so on, you add those 10 and you still have a reasonable number of games per season,” he said. “And this is another opportunity to compete for your country.”

    After losing his place in the Leeds starting line-up to ex-Real signing Kiko Casilla in January 2019, Peacock-Farrell moved to Burnley but was never able to secure the number one position at Turf Moor.

    After a season at Hillsborough, he was Aro Muric’s understudy last season, making 16 appearances as Burnley returned to the Premier League.

    But Vincent Kompany spent £20million to sign James Trafford this summer and Peacock-Farrell knew he had to look elsewhere.

    He had options in the Championship but the challenge, both personal and professional, of moving to Denmark’s second city was more appealing.

    For a player who grew up in the north-east of England, a little Scandinavian chill is not a big problem and Peacock-Farrell quickly settled in.

    “It’s really great, beautiful country, great city,” he said. “It seems very natural and there were no problems with the solution.”

    O’Neill will be racking up air miles this season, keeping an eye on not only Peacock-Farrell but also Isaac Price at Standard Liege and Craig Cathcart at Kortrijk, but relatively few British players continue to move abroad.

    “I don’t know why,” Peacock-Farrell said. “Maybe it’s a cultural problem, but maybe it’s because the Premier League is already here and everyone wants to come there.

    “I had a few options in England and this one really stood out in terms of a different style of football. European football is so different from the Premier League, the Championship and League One, so it was another learning experience and hopefully it will be a good one by the end of the season.”

    A landmark 50th cap is now almost within reach for a player who is still young in goalkeeping terms and has ambitions for a century.

    “I turned 40 the other day and I’m very proud of it,” he added. “Now I’m aiming for the next milestone: 50 years.

    “We’ve got big players here with big players in Jonny (Evans) and Davo (Steven Davis) when he comes back. We have a long way to go, but that’s my goal.”

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