Newcastle defender Shane Ferguson has re-affirmed his commitment to Northern Ireland to end speculation that he could defect to Giovanni Trapattoni's Republic of Ireland.

FIFA rules mean players born in Northern Ireland can play for the Republic, and the likes of Manchester United midfielder Darron Gibson and Everton defender Shane Duffy have chosen to do just that in the recent past.

However, 20-year-old Ferguson, who has represented Northern Ireland at senior international level, but only in a friendly, has decided to stick with the country of his birth.

The Derry-born youngster, who played for the Under-21s in their 2-0 defeat by Serbia on Tuesday, told Newcastle's official website, www.nufc.co.uk: "A lot of stuff was said in the past with people thinking I was going to switch to the Republic of Ireland and in the summer, I had a couple of options.

"I just wanted to take my time and think what I wanted to do, and a lot of people jumped the gun when I wasn't in one of the squads.

"But my heart is with Northern Ireland and always has been. I've represented them since I was a kid and I want to play for them for as long as I can.

"I played for the Under-21s the other day and I was happy to do that.

"It definitely wasn't a decision I wanted to rush into, but a lot of people probably didn't see it that way.

"But I've shown everyone I want to play for Northern Ireland and that's not going to change.

"I've got family from the south, but I just thought it was a good decision for me to stay with the country where I was born and raised."

Northern Ireland are currently managerless following Nigel Worthington's departure, but Ferguson is keen to impress his successor once he is appointed and set about the task of winning a competitive senior debut.

He said: "That's what I want. Whenever the new manager comes in, I'll just try to impress him as much as I can whenever he sees me play for my club at Newcastle.

"I'll have to keep working hard and just see what happens now."