Belfast Telegraph

Conor Washington: We can strike it rich at Euro 2016 Finals with our firepower

By Steven Beacom

Conor Washington believes the Northern Ireland team has the firepower in attack to make a real impact at the Euro 2016 finals.

For most of the successful qualifying campaign, Kyle Lafferty was the chief goal threat in attack for Michael O'Neill's men but then Josh Magennis stepped up to the plate to hit the net against Greece on the night team sealed their place in France when the Fermanagh man was suspended.

More: Kyle Lafferty: I considered quitting Northern Ireland

Since then Washington has come into the squad and scored twice in his first three internationals. And on Friday night Will Grigg came off the bench to slam home in the 3-0 friendly win over Belarus, joining Lafferty and Washington on the scoresheet.

"There's great quality going forward in the team which is brilliant for us," said Washington, who, having hit the target in a 1-0 success over Slovenia in March, has scored every time he has played at Windsor Park.

He added: "There's that healthy rivalry between all the strikers which is really good.

"I was pleased to score again on Friday night an it was nice for the three strikers to get on the scoresheet against Belarus.

"It's one of those goals that I probably don't score enough of, inside the six-yard box. It's a striker's goal and they probably mean the most.

"That is great for our confidence ahead of the Euro finals, where all of us are determined to make an impact."

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Washington started the game alongside Lafferty in attack in a 3-5-2 formation and felt there was promise in the partnership.

"Kyle's really good to play with," said Washington.

"He's an intelligent footballer and we were both looking for each other. I think there will be some teething problems, like there always is with new striking partnerships but hopefully we can play together a bit more.

"Whoever plays up front in a 3-5-2, Michael wants them to get down the sides and test the centre-halves.

"You see in international football a lot of teams push their full-backs on like Belarus did in the first 15, 20 minutes and we had some joy in that. Luckily for me, that's exactly how I want to play.

"I love getting down the sides of defenders and stretching teams. We definitely did have that licence."

Wigan star Grigg has gone from being a bordeline selection for the 23-man squad bound for France to Northern Ireland's new cult hero.

On Friday his song 'Will Grigg's on fire' which has become an internet sensation, echoed around Windsor Park before. during and after the match.

"All the boys wanted him to score from the minute he came on the pitch," revealed 24-year-old Washington.

"The song's been crazy, it's been everywhere. You can't stop singing it and after the season he's had he deserved that goal and I'm buzzing for him.

"All strikers need supply and Stuart Dallas and Niall McGinn showed real quality in getting assists against Belarus. It is a really good team to play in."

Belfast Telegraph