Monday, April 22, 2024

Key talking points ahead of Northern Ireland’s clash with Romania

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 21 Mar 2024

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Northern Ireland return to action with a friendly against Romania in Bucharest on Friday night.

The fixture is the first of back-to-back away games, with a trip to Glasgow to face Scotland up next.

Here, the PA news agency looks at the key talking points ahead of the Romania game.

Youth movement

After a hugely disappointing Euro 2024 qualifying campaign ruined by injuries, it is time for Michael O’Neill to hit the reset button. Those injuries accelerated the need for a rebuild of the Northern Ireland squad, and almost half of the players in O’Neill’s camp have 10 caps or less, and only two of them – Josh Magennis and George Saville – are over the age of 30. But there is much to be encouraged by, with Conor Bradley, Shea Charles, Isaac Price and Trai Hume among a group of exciting young players who can, given time, get them back to a major tournament. These games are about getting more experience into those players ahead of bigger challenges to come.

Bradley’s break-out

After starring on loan at League One Bolton last term, Bradley has hit the spotlight in recent months after breaking into Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool side with a string of eye-catching displays. In January he scored his first goal and provided two assists in a man-of-the-match display in a 4-1 win over Chelsea, and a month later he lifted the Carabao Cup. The 20-year-old missed the last six Euro qualifiers through injury last term, but Northern Ireland will be excited to welcome back a player who deserves to have some extra swagger in his step.

Davis’ new role

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