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Northern Ireland v Greece: Norwood confident of qualification

Confidence is high in the Northern Ireland camp ahead of their Euro 2016 qualifying match against Greece, says midfielder Oliver Norwood.

Michael O’Neill’s men currently lead the way in Group F and need just two points from their last two games in order to book their place in France next year.

Victory in their previous clash with Hungary would have secured qualification, but they were held to a 1-1 draw at Windsor Park.

And although Northern Ireland have not featured in a major finals since the 1986 World Cup, Reading man Norwood feels they are on the brink of ending their 30-year wait for a return. 

“We’re quietly confident we can finish the job off against Greece on Thursday,” Norwood told BBC Radio Berkshire.

“It has been a fantastic campaign. I don’t think anyone gave us a chance at the start.

“We know what we’ve got in the dressing room. The manager set us up with a certain style of play and it suits the players we have.

“It’s been building for four years now and we’re confident going into every game.”

There are two key absentees for O’Neill. Jonny Evans has remained with West Brom to nurse a hamstring injury and Kyle Lafferty, who has scored seven goals in the qualifying campaign, is ruled out due to suspension.

However, Luke McCullough and Ben Reeves have been added to the squad.

Greece, who remain without a permanent coach after talks with Bernd Schuster broke down, are currently in dire straits.

The Euro 2004 champions will only be playing for pride as they sit bottom of the group following a dismal campaign that has seen them fail to win any of their eight games, with their only remaining aim to finish higher than minnows Faroe Islands, who are currently three points clear of them.

They fell to a 2-0 defeat at home to Northern Ireland in October last year and have scored just two goals so far – one more than San Marino.

Kostas Manolas will be unable to feature due to suspension, while Sokratis Papastathopoulos and Kostas Fortounis are doubts.

Tue 6 Oct, 2015
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