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David Healy: Fearless Conor Washington will help Northern Ireland relight fire at Euro 2016

Disappointment. I think that was the overriding emotion of all Northern Ireland fans after Sunday's 1-0 defeat to Poland. The players and manager Michael O'Neill will have felt exactly the same way.

In football, and especially at a tournament like Euro 2016, you have to get over disappointment quickly though and move on.

The next game against Ukraine is just a couple of days away and it now becomes the biggest match the boys have ever played.

While Northern Ireland didn't play to the level they are capable of producing on Sunday in Nice, it is worth remembering that for all involved it was their first taste of international football in a major finals so I can tell you there will have been plenty of nerves for the players and staff.

But now that they have got that experience over with they will know what to expect when the Lyon game comes around on Thursday.

I believe the players will have learned more from the Poland defeat than they did during the 12-match unbeaten run that took them into the tournament.

Everyone from the manager to the players must use that to their advantage.

I fancy Michael will shake things up a bit for the Ukraine game, be it playing the 3-5-2 system that has worked well in recent friendlies or the 4-3-3 he used in the qualifiers.

What I would like to see is Michael playing Conor Washington from the start alongside Kyle Lafferty in attack. When Conor came on against Poland in the second half for the first time in the game we looked a threat.

I really like Conor. He has only played a few matches at international level and you can see he approaches the matches with no fear which is a good quality to have. There is an unpredictability about him that opposition teams dread.

He is also physical which in modern day international football is vital. He is willing to take defenders on and run at them and get the fans going. And he would offer much-needed support for Kyle, who for most of the Poland game was isolated.

There's no doubt this is a step up in class for all of the team, but Northern Ireland need a positive result against Ukraine and by unleashing Washington I think it would be the way to go in a 3-5-2 formation.

Another option Michael may look at it is 4-3-3 using Stuart Dallas and Jamie Ward either side of Kyle.

That has worked in the past and could work again versus Ukraine, but I hope Washington gets the nod.

I really believe that he could rattle Ukraine and help us create a lot more chances than we did in the Poland game.

Like the Poles, Ukraine will be technically good and strong physically, but in my view we can beat them if we are at our best and keep our hopes of progressing to the last 16 alive.

I was at home here in Northern Ireland for Sunday's match and I have to say the build-up was incredible. In Belfast I don't think I've ever seen more Northern Ireland tops. I felt a huge surge of pride as I walked around the city and another one on match day when on television I heard the Northern Ireland fans sing my name in the stadium in Nice on Sunday.

That was quite a moment.

Our fans have been sensational to date and I know they will be in full voice for the Ukraine game roaring our boys on.

Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye
Belfast, UK - February 12 , Pictured is fans reactions during the Northern Ireland fan zone in association with Vauxhall held at the Titanic Slipways as Northern Ireland take on Poland in the Euros on February 12, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast, UK - February 12 , Pictured is fans reactions during the Northern Ireland fan zone in association with Vauxhall held at the Titanic Slipways as Northern Ireland take on Poland in the Euros on February 12, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Northern Ireland fans look dejected whilst watching the UEFA Euro 2016, Group C match between Northern Ireland and Poland at the Titanic Museum, Belfast.
Fans at Belfast's Titanic Slipways as Northern Ireland concede the goal during Poland's 1-0 victory in the Euros on February 12, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
A Northern Ireland supporter looks on during the Euro 2016 group C football match between Poland and Northern Ireland at the Allianz Riviera stadium in Nice on June 12, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / Valery HACHEVALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast, UK - February 12 , Pictured is fans reactions during the Northern Ireland fan zone in association with Vauxhall held at the Titanic Slipways as Northern Ireland take on Poland in the Euros on February 12, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast, UK - February 12 , Pictured is fans reactions during the Northern Ireland fan zone in association with Vauxhall held at the Titanic Slipways as Northern Ireland take on Poland in the Euros on February 12, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast, UK - February 12 , Pictured is fans reactions during the Northern Ireland fan zone in association with Vauxhall held at the Titanic Slipways as Northern Ireland take on Poland in the Euros on February 12, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast, UK - February 12 , Pictured is fans reactions during the Northern Ireland fan zone in association with Vauxhall held at the Titanic Slipways as Northern Ireland take on Poland in the Euros on February 12, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Northern Ireland's goalkeeper Michael McGovern looks at the ball after Poland's forward Arkadiusz Milik scored during the Euro 2016 group C football match between Poland and Northern Ireland at the Allianz Riviera stadium in Nice on June 12, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / Valery HACHEVALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images
Poland's defender Artur Jedrzejczyk (R) celebrates his team's victory next to Northern Ireland's forward Conor Washington at the end of the Euro 2016 group C football match between Poland and Northern Ireland at the Stade de Nice in Nice on June 12, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / TOBIAS SCHWARZTOBIAS SCHWARZ/AFP/Getty Images
Northern Ireland fans look dejected whilst watching the UEFA Euro 2016, Group C match between Northern Ireland and Poland at the Titanic Museum, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday June 12, 2016. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Jonny Evans of Northern Ireland applauds the supporters after his team's 0-1 defeat in the UEFA EURO 2016 Group C match between Poland and Northern Ireland at Allianz Riviera Stadium on June 12, 2016 in Nice, France. Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images
A Northern Ireland fan looks dejected whilst watching the UEFA Euro 2016, Group C match between Northern Ireland and Poland at the Titanic Museum, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday June 12, 2016. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Gareth McAuley (R) and Northern Ireland players applaud after their 0-1 defeat in the UEFA EURO 2016 Group C match between Poland and Northern Ireland at Allianz Riviera Stadium on June 12, 2016 in Nice, France. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - Poland's defender Artur Jedrzejczyk (R) celebrates his team's victory next to Northern Ireland's forward Conor Washington at the end of the Euro 2016 group C football match between Poland and Northern Ireland at the Stade de Nice in Nice on June 12, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / TOBIAS SCHWARZTOBIAS SCHWARZ/AFP/Getty Images
Conor Washington of Northern Ireland show their dejection after his team's 0-1 defeat in the UEFA EURO 2016 Group C match between Poland and Northern Ireland at Allianz Riviera Stadium on June 12, 2016 in Nice, France. (Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images)
Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty during the UEFA Euro 2016, Group C match at the Stade de Nice, Nice. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday June 12, 2016. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Nick Potts/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only. Book and magazine sales permitted providing not solely devoted to any one team/player/match. No commercial use. Call +44 (0)1158 447447 for further information.
Northern Ireland's defender Craig Cathcart reacts to his team's loss after the final whistle during the Euro 2016 group C football match between Poland and Northern Ireland at the Allianz Riviera stadium in Nice on June 12, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / Valery HACHEVALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images
NICE, FRANCE - JUNE 12: Jonny Evans of Northern Ireland applauds the supporters after his team's 0-1 defeat in the UEFA EURO 2016 Group C match between Poland and Northern Ireland at Allianz Riviera Stadium on June 12, 2016 in Nice, France. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
Northern Ireland fans appear dejected in the stands after seeing their side concede the first goal of the game during the UEFA Euro 2016, Group C match at the Stade de Nice, Nice. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday June 12, 2016. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only. Book and magazine sales permitted providing not solely devoted to any one team/player/match. No commercial use. Call +44 (0)1158 447447 for further information.
Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill on the touchline during the UEFA Euro 2016, Group C match at the Stade de Nice, Nice.
Northern Ireland fans appear dejected in the stands after seeing their side concede the first goal of the game during the UEFA Euro 2016, Group C match at the Stade de Nice, Nice. Jonathan Brady/PA Wire.
Poland's forward Arkadiusz Milik (L) is congratualtes by teammates after scoring a goal during the Euro 2016 group C football match between Poland and Northern Ireland at the Stade de Nice in Nice on June 12, 2016.
Northern Ireland fans looks dejected after their team concede a goal as they watch the UEFA Euro 2016, Group C match between Northern Ireland and Poland at the Titanic Museum, Belfast.
Arkadiusz Milik (2nd L) of Poland scores his team's first goal past Michael McGovern of Northern Ireland during the UEFA EURO 2016 Group C match between Poland and Northern Ireland at Allianz Riviera Stadium on June 12, 2016 in Nice, France. (Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images)
Northern Ireland Manager Michael O'Neill during this afternoons Euro 2016 International at the Allianz stadium in Nice on Sunday. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Northern Ireland Fans at this afternoons Euro 2016 International at the Allianz stadium in Nice on Sunday. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Northern Ireland's Steven Davis and Poland's Michał Pazdan during this afternoons Euro 2016 International at the Allianz stadium in Nice on Sunday. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Poland's midfielder Krzysztof Maczynski (C) passes the ball during the Euro 2016 group C football match between Poland and Northern Ireland at the Stade de Nice in Nice on June 12, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / TOBIAS SCHWARZTOBIAS SCHWARZ/AFP/Getty Images
Northern Ireland's Paddy McNair (right) and Poland's Arkadiusz Milik battle for the ball during the UEFA Euro 2016, Group C match at the Stade de Nice, Nice. Nick Potts/PA Wire.
Pat Jennings (centre) in the stands during the UEFA Euro 2016, Group C match at the Stade de Nice, Nice. Jonathan Brady/PA Wire.
Sir Alex Ferguson (centre) in the stands during the UEFA Euro 2016, Group C match at the Stade de Nice, Nice. Jonathan Brady/PA Wire.
Kyle Lafferty of Northern Ireland interacts with Wojciech Szczesny of Poland during the UEFA EURO 2016 Group C match between Poland and Northern Ireland at Allianz Riviera Stadium on June 12, 2016 in Nice, France. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
Kate Hoey shows her support in the stands during the UEFA Euro 2016, Group C match at the Stade de Nice, Nice. Jonathan Brady/PA Wire.
Northern Ireland fans during Sundays Euro 2016, Group C match against Poland at the Stade de Nice, France.
Artur Jedrzejczyk of Poland and Kyle Lafferty of Northern Ireland compete for the ball during the UEFA EURO 2016 Group C match between Poland and Northern Ireland at Allianz Riviera Stadium on June 12, 2016 in Nice, France. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
Northern Ireland fans during Sundays Euro 2016, Group C match against Poland at the Stade de Nice, France.
Poland's Robert Lewandowski heads at goal whilst under pressure from Northern Ireland's Conor McLaughlin (left) during the UEFA Euro 2016, Group C match at the Stade de Nice, Nice.
@Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland- 12th June 2016 Mandatory Credit -Brian Little/Presseye Northern Ireland fan supporting Northern Ireland against Poland EURO 2016 at the Stade de Nice. Picture by Brian Little/Presseye
Northern Ireland fans during Sundays Euro 2016, Group C match against Poland at the Stade de Nice, France.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 12th June 2016 - Photo by Press Eye - First Minister Arlene Foster with IFA President Jim Shaw and IFA Chief Executive Patrick Nelson at Poland V Northern Ireland in Nice, France.
Northern Ireland fans show their support in the stands before the UEFA Euro 2016, Group C match at the Stade de Nice, Nice. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday June 12, 2016. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only. Book and magazine sales permitted providing not solely devoted to any one team/player/match. No commercial use. Call +44 (0)1158 447447 for further information.
Northern Ireland fans show their support in the stands before the UEFA Euro 2016, Group C match at the Stade de Nice, Nice. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday June 12, 2016. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only. Book and magazine sales permitted providing not solely devoted to any one team/player/match. No commercial use. Call +44 (0)1158 447447 for further information.
Northern Ireland fans show their support in the stands before the UEFA Euro 2016, Group C match at the Stade de Nice, Nice. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday June 12, 2016. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only. Book and magazine sales permitted providing not solely devoted to any one team/player/match. No commercial use. Call +44 (0)1158 447447 for further information.
Poland's starting eleven pose for a group picture during the Euro 2016 group C football match between Poland and Northern Ireland at the Allianz Riviera stadium in Nice on June 12, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / Valery HACHEVALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images
Poland supporters cheer their team on during the Euro 2016 group C football match between Poland and Northern Ireland at the Allianz Riviera stadium in Nice on June 12, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / Valery HACHEVALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images
Northern Ireland supporters cheer during the Euro 2016 group C football match between Poland and Northern Ireland at the Allianz Riviera stadium in Nice on June 12, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / Valery HACHEVALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images
Northern Ireland's Steven Davis (centre) during the warm-up before the UEFA Euro 2016, Group C match at the Stade de Nice, Nice.
Northern Ireland fans in the stands during the UEFA Euro 2016, Group C match at the Stade de Nice, Nice.
Northern Ireland fans show their support in the stands before the UEFA Euro 2016, Group C match at the Stade de Nice, Nice.
Northern Ireland fans during Sundays Euro 2016, Group C match against Poland at the Stade de Nice, France.
@Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland- 12th June 2016 Mandatory Credit -Brian Little/Presseye Northern Ireland fan Josh Baines aged 8, and father Roger and Grandfather Jim from Kilkeel enjoying the sunshine in Nice ahead of the Northern Ireland against Poland EURO 2016 match at the Stade de Nice. Picture by Brian Little/Presseye
@Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland- 12th June 2016 Mandatory Credit -Brian Little/Presseye Northern Ireland fan Matthew Gibson , aged 12, from Donaghadee enjoying the sunshine in Nice ahead of the Northern Ireland against Poland EURO 2016 match at the Stade de Nice. Picture by Brian Little/Presseye
@Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland- 12th June 2016 Mandatory Credit -Brian Little/Presseye Northern Ireland fans Ruth and David Crawford and Louise Hamilton from Donegal , enjoying the sunshine in Nice ahead of the Northern Ireland against Poland EURO 2016 match at the Stade de Nice. Picture by Brian Little/Presseye
@Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland- 12th June 2016 Mandatory Credit -Brian Little/Presseye Northern Ireland fans Uel,William,Ian,Ken and Hugh Moulds from Lisburn , enjoying the sunshine in Nice ahead of the Northern Ireland against Poland EURO 2016 match at the Stade de Nice. Picture by Brian Little/Presseye
@Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland- 12th June 2016 Mandatory Credit -Brian Little/Presseye Northern Ireland fans Olivia and Roy Kelly from Bangor, enjoying the sunshine in Nice ahead of the Northern Ireland against Poland EURO 2016 match at the Stade de Nice. Picture by Brian Little/Presseye
@Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland- 12th June 2016 Mandatory Credit -Brian Little/Presseye Northern Ireland fan Marc, Gillian, Ann and Colin Francey from Portrush , enjoying the sunshine in Nice ahead of the Northern Ireland against Poland EURO 2016 match at the Stade de Nice. Picture by Brian Little/Presseye
@Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland- 12th June 2016 Mandatory Credit -Brian Little/Presseye Northern Ireland fan David Clint from Comber , enjoying the sunshine in Nice ahead of the Northern Ireland against Poland EURO 2016 match at the Stade de Nice. Picture by Brian Little/Presseye
@Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland- 12th June 2016 Mandatory Credit -Brian Little/Presseye Northern Ireland fans Uel,William,Ian,Ken and Hugh Moulds from Lisburn , enjoying the sunshine in Nice ahead of the Northern Ireland against Poland EURO 2016 match at the Stade de Nice. Picture by Brian Little/Presseye
Northern Ireland v Poland Euro 2016 Group C Northern Ireland Fans From L-R Graeme Hamilton, Conor Munn, Scott Robinson and Luke McCreery at this afternoons Euro 2016 International at the Allianz stadium in Nice on Sunday. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Northern Ireland v Poland Euro 2016 Group C Northern Ireland Fans Graeme Hamilton, Conor Munn, Scott Robinson and Luke McCreery with Polish fans at this afternoons Euro 2016 International at the Allianz stadium in Nice on Sunday. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Northern Ireland v Poland Euro 2016 Group C Northern Ireland Fans Graeme Hamilton, Conor Munn, Scott Robinson and Luke McCreery get a selfie with Polish Fans at this afternoons Euro 2016 International at the Allianz stadium in Nice on Sunday. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Carl Frampton with fellow Northern Ireland fan James Tait in Nice
Northern Ireland v Poland Euro 2016 Group C Northern Ireland Fans David , Stuart and Colin Bell at this afternoons Euro 2016 International at the Allianz stadium in Nice on Sunday. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
First Minister Arlene Foster joins Northern Ireland fans in Nice ahead of their opening Euro 2016 game against Poland on Sunday.
First Minister Arlene Foster joins Northern Ireland fans in Nice ahead of their opening Euro 2016 game against Poland on Sunday.
First Minister Arlene Foster joins Northern Ireland fans in Nice ahead of their opening Euro 2016 game against Poland on Sunday.
First Minister Arlene Foster joins Northern Ireland fans in Nice ahead of their opening Euro 2016 game against Poland on Sunday.
Northern Ireland supporter and Groom Stuart Stockman (second left) outside the Ma Nolan's Irish pub in Nice, France ahead of his team's opening match against Poland in Euro 2016. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday June 11, 2016. See PA story SPORT Euro2016 StagNI. Photo credit should read: Michael McHugh/PA Wire
Northern Ireland supporters enjoying the sights of Nice, France ahead of the team's opening match against Poland in Euro 2016.
Northern Ireland fans appear on the balcony of their hotel on the seafront near Promenade des Anglais, Nice, France. PA
Northern Ireland fans are joined by a Polish football fan as they arrive on the seafront near Promenade des Anglais, Nice, France. PA
Northern Ireland fans appear on the balcony of their hotel on the seafront near Promenade des Anglais, Nice, France. PA
Northern Ireland fans appear on the balcony of their hotel on the seafront near Promenade des Anglais, Nice, France. PA
Northern Ireland fans arrive on the seafront near Promenade des Anglais, Nice, France. PA
Northern Ireland fans arrive on the beach near Promenade des Anglais, Nice, France. PA
Northern Ireland fans Chris Geoghegan and Richard McKnight from Belfast bump into Gary Lineker in France.
Philip Wright on tour with the Green and White army. They left on a 6am flight to Nice.
Ballymacash Northern Ireland supporter's club head off to France. Pic: Andrew Clarke
David Johnston and fellow Northern Ireland fans head off to France.
Crawford McCullough's 'mancave' in Bangor Co Down.
Northern Ireland flags flying in France. Picture: Dennis Russell
Adam Topping (33) from Scarva Northern Ireland in St Raphael. He has tickets all the way to the final so will not be home until July 11.
A Northern Ireland fan samples some ice cream in Lyon, France. Thursday June 9, 2016. PA
Colin Porter passing the time before he heads to Nice. Pic: Gary Porter
Home for Bedfordshire based Dave Price and his pals for the next two weeks at least
Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland fans on their way to France for Euro 2016. Pic: Gregg Clarke.
Northern Ireland fans Eddie McCullough and Ian Thompson pictured at the boulangerie in Georges de Reneins, France ahead of the opening Euro 2016 game against Poland in Lyon on Sunday. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 09th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Northern Ireland Fan Ian Thompson from Ballymena travel threw St Georges de Reneines in a camper van, on the way to Nice as N Ireland face Poland in their opening match on Sunday. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty pictured during Fridays training session in St Georges de Reneins, France ahead of their opening Euro 2016 game against Poland on Sunday.

It is so sad that one of our supporters, Darren Rodgers, tragically lost his life in Nice.

I want to send my sympathy to Darren's family. This will be such a terrible time for them and my thoughts are with them.

Like everyone I was shocked to hear that news. It really does put everything in perspective.

Belfast Telegraph

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