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Northern Ireland boss Michael O’Neill thinks a fresh style of drama can help his squad overcome a challenging group and be eligible for your Euro 20 20 finals.

O’Neill said he is convinced of yet again leading his side into the Euro finals despite having to face Holland and in Group C.

NI begin their campaign at home to Estonia on Thursday then host Belarus in Windsor Park three days after.

“There is no getting away from how difficult the bunch is,” said O’Neill.

“But I enjoy the look with this squad and am convinced we can perform at the same degrees we did when we qualified for the Euro 2016 finals in France.

“Our squad is young and doesn’t have a lot of knowledge in certain areas, but we have good pace and very good legs at the team.

“This leads us to engage in with a slightly different style of football to exactly what we now have played previous campaigns and I think every one is looking forward to the games.”

With the matches against and the Netherlands coming after home and away matches against Estonia and Belarus, O’Neill has emphasized the importance of winning maximum points in this week’s double header.

“We have a chance in these first two matches to get things on the board and that’s definitely going to be very significant concerning the character of the competitions we will face down the line in and Holland,” he added.

Experience of France 2016 will likely be vital

Corry Evans

O’Neill had been dealt a blow in the build-up into the opener against Estonia when Sunderland striker May Grigg pulled outside of the group using a continuing ankle issue.

Experienced defender Gareth McAuley along with midfielder Corry Evans are doubts for Thursday’s game, whereas Gavin Whyte is also a small concern with a knee injury.

While acknowledging the players’ state is an issue, O’Neill has confidence from the group members available to measure.

“Gavin has generated an effect since he’s come and Corry has been an outstanding player for me for quite a few years,” he added.

“Yet, international football is all about taking your opportunities when they come together and we now have other players to come in who have maybe been to the seat before.

“We hope those players make the impact we all know that they are able to.”


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