Michael O’Neill has called on his Northern Ireland players to seize their place in his Euro 2016 squad by impressing in the warm-up friendly against Belarus.
Northern Ireland welcome Belarus to Windsor Park on May 27 for their final game before O’Neill names his 23-man party for the upcoming tournament in France.
O’Neill has called up 28 players for the clash with Aleksandr Khatskevich’s side and wants them to extend their 10-match unbeaten run before they visit Slovakia for their final pre-Euros friendly on June 4.
— Northern Ireland (@NorthernIreland) May 18, 2016
“We will use the Belarus game to look at our options, our systems and how we play. It’s also a chance to look at personnel and to give players opportunities,” he explained.
“We are on a good run at the minute and we want to continue that run. It is important that we approach the match in the same way as we have approached all our other games since qualification. In those we are unbeaten – we have won two and drawn one.
“We have only conceded one goal and that was from a penalty. Those are little things that build confidence and momentum going into a tournament.
“The Belarus and Slovakia games will both be very important. I think that they will both be good tests for us, particularly the game away in Slovakia.
“They are what we need because when we come to the tournament we are going to have to reach very high levels, possibly levels that we have never reached before.”
Northern Ireland begin their Euro 2016 campaign against Poland on June 12. They will also meet Ukraine and Germany in Group C.
Squad in full for Belarus friendly:
Goalkeepers: Roy Carroll (Notts County), Michael McGovern (Hamilton), Alan Mannus (St Johnstone)
Defenders: Craig Cathcart (Watford), Jonny Evans, Gareth McAuley (both West Brom), Luke McCullogh (Doncaster Rovers), Conor McLaughlin (Fleetwood Town), Aaron Hughes (unattached), Daniel Lafferty (Burnley), Michael Smith (Peterborough United), Lee Hodson (MK Dons), Paddy McNair (Manchester United)
Midfielders: Steven Davis (Southampton), Oliver Norwood (Reading), Corry Evans (Blackburn Rovers), Jamie Ward (Nottingham Forest), Stuart Dallas (Leeds United), Niall McGinn (Aberdeen), Shane Ferguson (Millwall), Ben Reeves (MK Dons)
Forwards: Will Grigg (Wigan Athletic), Kyle Lafferty (Norwich City), Conor Washington (QPR), Billy McKay (Dundee United), Liam Boyce (Ross County), Josh Magennis (Kilmarnock)