O'Neill targets Euro spot

Michael O'Neill believes a new qualifying format could play into Northern Ireland's hands as they take aim at Euro 2016.

Last Updated: 31/03/14 at 10:08 Post Comment

Michael O'Neill: Hoping to guide Northern Ireland to a major tournament

Michael O'Neill: Hoping to guide Northern Ireland to a major tournament

More of the games that matter

Upgrade in minutes or watch with a NOW TV Day Pass.

With the European Championship set to be expanded to 24 teams when the tournament heads for France, there will be an extra eight places up for grabs.

Finishing third in a qualification group could be enough to sneak through, and that offers fresh hope to those who have struggled in recent times.

Northern Ireland fall into that category, but a favourable draw in Group F alongside Greece, Hungary, Romania, Finland and the Faroe Islands has national coach O'Neill upbeat regarding his chances of overseeing a successful campaign.

He said in the Daily Mirror: "I am happy. Greece will be a very tough game but it would probably be the country you may have chosen (from the top pot).

"We have teams in there - Hungary, Romania, Finland - that I believe we can compete with and take points from.

"We need to maximise our points at home. We're well capable of doing that.

"Automatic qualification is the aim but having third place to aim at also helps.

"You could possibly get third place with 14 points, which is achievable."

O'Neill is confident he has enough quality at his disposal to put Northern Ireland in contention, with fresh faces such as MK Dons midfielder Ben Reeves helping to add depth to the squad.

O'Neill said: "Ben is a player I've known was eligible, though his grandmother, for about 12 months or so, since he was at Southampton.

"He struggled to make the breakthrough there into the big time, but they are such a good grounding for youngsters and their academy is recognised for the quality players it is producing.

"There's Gareth McAuley and Craig Cathcart, who's played a lot under me.

"Alex Bruce hasn't played that much but he's fit and playing now for Hull, and we have Rory McArdle too.

"We may have to have a little versatility, but it gives others opportunities."

TEAMtalk Facebook Fan Page

The TEAMtalk fan page is a great place to meet like minded people, have football related discussions and make new friends.

Related News

Most Commented

Readers' Comments

I

was there, it was embarrassing - the team looked totally unbalanced from the off, the defence was woeful and when Mikel came off injured it got even worse with nobody in front of them. Up front on several occasions we had opportunities and nobody would shoot - it was a complete farse! On the back of Salah's performance I'm glad there is talk of getting shot...

Fly1ngh1gh
Cup defeat shames Mourinho

G

reat to see Tommy Rosicky getting some love. A wonderful player. Such a pity we lost so long to injury. I was so excited when we signed him, this resurgence only makes the absences seem more of a lost opportunity.

cheshire-gooner
16 Conclusions: FA Cup Fourth Round Weekend

A

pparently Chiles has blamed Twitter trolls for his exit. Proof that even the worst things can get great results at times.

cheshire-gooner
Adrian Chiles to leave ITV

Footer 365

FA Cup: Giant killers Bradford handed Sunderland or Fulham showdown in fifth round

Bradford’s reward for knocking Chelsea out of the FA Cup is a fifth-round showdown with either Sunderland or Fulham.

Dutch FA president Michael van Praag to challenge Sepp Blatter for FIFA top job

Dutch FA president Michael van Praag is to stand against Sepp Blatter for the FIFA presidency.

Scottish football: Charlie Telfer upbeat over Dundee United's cup chances this season

Charlie Telfer believes he could end his first season at Dundee United with at least one cup winner's medal.

Mail Box

You're Man Utd, For Crying Out Loud!

Defending a 0-0 draw with Cambridge on the grounds that other teams lost to lower-league opposition is not befitting of Man United. We're inclined to agree with Mailboxers...

A Massive Mailbox On A Weekend Of Wonder

We unsurprisingly have plenty of mails on a wonderful FA Cup weekend, including thoughts on Palace, Van Gaal, Phil Jones, Chelsea, Mourinho and Yaya Toure...

© 2015 Sky Ltd. All Rights Reserved A Sky Sports Digital Media company