O'Neill confident ahead of Russia game

Published Wednesday, 20 March 2013
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Michael O'Neill is feeling confident ahead of Northern Ireland's World Cup qualifier on Friday night.

O'Neill confident ahead of Russia game
Manager Michael O'Neill with the NI squad during training. (© Pacemaker)

His side will face Russia at Windsor Park on Friday, and the visitors are on top form after winning four out of four games in the qualification group.

Meanwhile, O'Neill has led his side into eight games without a win and he says Friday's game will be a huge test for his players.

"It's one where we have everything to gain," he said, "and these are the games, where over history Northern Ireland we have managed to properly upset the odds and we will we looking to do the same thing Friday night.

"The most important thing for us is the competitive games and there has been a lot of positives in that.

"We have reviewed that and did a lot of video work and showed the players in their performance," O'Neill commented.

Back on the squad is Burnley striker Martin Paterson, who had taken a break to regain full fitness,.

He joins West Bromich Albion player Chris Brunt, who is hoping for a win in his home city.

The 28-year-old said kicking off their double header in a positive fashion could set a precedence for NI.

"We have been improving under Michael and we have been difficult to beat but now it's about getting that first win to kick-start things.

"Results (at Windsor Park) have been frustrating, of course, because we could be sitting with four extra points.

"We got a point we probably didn't expect to have when we drew in Portugal, so it's swings and roundabouts, but we'd rather be sitting here with two wins from the home games. Looking back on it, that's definitely what we should have," he explained.

Northern Ireland have a 24-man squad available for the Russia match, with suspended duo Kyle Lafferty and Chris Baird linking up with the group ahead of the Israel fixture.

Of the initial squad, only Derby forward Jamie Ward was unable to travel and was replaced by Aberdeen's Josh Magennis.

The first couple of training sessions have not led to any additional withdrawals, but Will Grigg and Andy Little did sit out today's workout.

Walsall forward Grigg - who is eyeing Lafferty's role leading the line - has a hamstring niggle, while Rangers man Little is struggling with his knee.

© UTV News
Comments Comments
5 Comments
Vinny.dublin in Finglas. Dublin wrote (578 days ago):
Come on the russia
Davey in Londonderry wrote (579 days ago):
Wise up & grow up!!!!
B in Belfast wrote (579 days ago):
Come on the GAWA! And `Can ice in Derry` - catch a grip!
Gerry Brown in Greysteel Derry wrote (580 days ago):
Listing to the news tonight in UTV I was amazed at everyone’s prospects if Northern Ireland beating Russia in the upcoming match. I have a question for those whom the question may concern. And seeing UTV reported the story I presume they are interested in a good result for N.I. Well I hate to burst your bubble, BUT N.I. has as much chance of beating Russia as I have going to the moon on a ducks back, even they do beat Russia everyone will be like the English when they win a tournament even a small one. The N.I. supports and the media will be going round whooping and wheeing as if they win a major trophy, instead of keeping their heads, their embarrassing not only themselves but the whole of N.I. The rest of the world would be laughing at them, Now I may upset some hard lined supports here, BUT you have to be realistic, these hardliner supports are so (numb bent) on going it alone, for the want of a better word, OR a word I cannot use even though it’s used in everyday use by everyone, nevertheless I would get my knuckles wrapped for using it here. Anyhow do these hardliners, not realise that there not going anywhere, N.I. will never win a major tournament on their own, so perhaps it’s time these hardliners swallowed their pride and listen to the likes of Keith Gillespie, OR the one and only, Northern Ireland’s own George Best. George always wanted an all-Ireland side but his pleading fell on deaf ears, and George passed away not seeing it happen RIP. Now for the life of me I cannot figure out why these hardliners, don’t want an all Ireland side, after all soccer is the only sport that hasn’t an all-Ireland side and because of these hardliners, AND politics it will never happen well in the near future, UNLESS those responsible get a grip on themselves. Not even the famous Jose Mourinho, or the famous Alex Ferguson could turn N.I. around to win the world cup, OR any major torment for that matter I’d be safe to say for them to win a match would be hard, well against the likes of Brazil, France, EVEN Russia. N.I. played a number of sides which is hardly known, and they only managed to draw, so how could they expect to beat the likes of Germany, Belgium, Sweden, Turkey, to name but a few, what chance would you have against the Republic I wonder? So I appeal with the hardliners to soften up and have an all-Ireland side that way there is a very good chance that we could have a world cup or some other major torment under our belt in the near future. But and that’s a big BUT as long as there is hair on a goat N.I. has no chance of a major tournament, and not just that BUT I feel sorry for Michael O’ Neill, and it’s only a matter of time till he’s booted out as well, and the one who follows, and the one who follows that. So can someone please tell me why N.I’s. supporters and perhaps others who is pushing for N.I. to go it alone E.G. politicians.
Can ice in Derry wrote (580 days ago):
Come on Russia!
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