Michael O'Neill has given an ultimatum to his players
Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill has urged his battle-weary troops to deliver a performance against Denmark which proves they can have successful international careers.
O’Neill’s side have only managed to beat whipping boys San Marino in Euro 2024 qualifying Group H as they aim to salvage some pride on Monday night from a campaign which has featured seven defeats in nine matches.
Denmark arrive at Windsor Park for the final qualifier knowing they have secured a spot at next summer’s finals in Germany and they will face a Northern Ireland side desperately looking for a performance which can offer some hope for the future.
The shocking 4-0 defeat in Finland on Friday exposed his squad’s lack of depth.
O’Neill has had to put his faith in young players in a campaign badly disrupted by injury but he wants his players to finish their group commitments with a message they can thrive on this stage.
“It’s the pool of players we have so when they come into the international squad it’s really, really important that they give a good account of themselves,” said O’Neill.
“For a lot of them it’s a step up and it’s a big step up.
“For me the best way a player can look at the Denmark game is that I’m not going to get another international game for four months and hopefully the manager will pick me again in four months’ time. That’s the way they have to approach it if they’re given the opportunity to start.
“This game is every bit as important as what we will face next.
“What is required from them is totally different to what they need at their club and that’s what they have to learn.” With Paul Smyth over his hamstring injury and Shea Charles back from suspension, MichaelRead on belfasttelegraph.co.uk