Northern Ireland boss Nigel Worthington has held talks with Alex Bruce that could see the Republic of Ireland defender switch his international allegiance.

The 1998 Good Friday Agreement, coupled with a FIFA ruling allowing players to change nationality once before playing a competitive senior international if they were born "on the territory of the relevant association", allows players to move from one Ireland side to the other.

Both of Leeds defender Bruce's senior appearances for the Republic were friendlies before Giovanni Trapattoni took over as coach, and Worthington confirmed to BBC Sport that talks had taken place. He said: "I've just got to be patient like everybody else and see what the outcome is,"

The former Norwich boss added: "When I spoke to him he's been very enthusiastic."

The likes of Manchester United midfielder Darron Gibson and defenders Shane Duffy of Everton, Marc Wilson of Stoke and Preston teenager Daniel Devine have all made the opposite switch to represent the Republic, with Newcastle prospect Shane Ferguson contemplating following suit.

But Worthington played down the player drain, saying: "Not that many have gone to the Republic at this moment in time and hopefully that's the way it stays.

"We want all our players from the North of Ireland to stay in the North of Ireland.

"We've got a fantastic young set-up, with players coming through to be part of that. There is a wonderful spirit.

"We will welcome them into our group like we do any other."

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#Darron Gibson
#Leeds United
#Shane Duffy