Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland v Estonia: McGinn out for revenge

By Graham Luney

Niall McGinn is inspired by Hot Chocolate’s famous lyrics — ‘I believe in miracles’.

Northern Ireland are staring down the barrel of another unproductive qualifying campaign but an extraordinary turn of events can still see them realise their Euro 2012 dream.

Some fans are fed up at all the negativity as the dust settles on the 1-0 home defeat to Serbia and |4-1 debacle in Estonia.

So McGinn’s wishful thinking and positive attitude should be music to the ears of the Green and White Army.

The Celtic winger, on a year-long loan deal at Brentford, is hoping to win his 17th cap against Estonia at Windsor Park tomorrow night and he’s in the mood to fight to the finish before feeling the blues.

For Northern Ireland to snatch a Euro 2012 play-off place they must beat Estonia and then win in Italy on Tuesday night while Serbia must lose to Italy tomorrow night and in Slovenia on Tuesday.

It’s a highly unlikely scenario — especially now that Aaron Hughes and Jonny Evans have both been ruled out of the double header through injury — but that won’t stop McGinn dreaming.

“It would be nice to pull off a miracle finish,” said the 24-year-old.

“We have two games left and we just have to show the fans what we are capable of.

“Hopefully we can finish the campaign on a high — there is no better game than Estonia, followed by a huge task against Italy and the players will be looking forward to it.”

McGinn won’t forget the Estonia horror show in a hurry and that’s why he’s on a revenge mission tomorrow night.

“A few defensive errors let us down against Estonia but the overall performance in that game and the Serbia one was not particularly bad, it was lapses of concentration that hurt us,” added the former Dungannon Swifts and Derry City ace.

“Now we owe the fans a good performance against Estonia.

“They are a good side but we owe them one after they beat us well over there,” said McGinn.

“It’s good to have Kyle (Lafferty) and Paddy McCourt back to give us strength in attack,” he explained.

McGinn’s personal objectives are pretty simple — to keep competing for Northern Ireland and to win back a starting role in the Celtic team.

“I now feel like I’ve been around the team for a while and with new players coming in I’m feeling like a more experienced member of the squad,” he said.

“I’ve got my career back on track and I’m scoring goals. I’m hoping to feature in these two games.

“I’m still contracted to Celtic and I’d love to go back. Celtic just wanted me to get games so my confidence could return.

“But it’s good to play your football in London where it’s a big shop window and you are playing against good teams and players who have played in the Premiership.

“I might catch the eye of other teams and certainly I have more of a chance starting an international game by playing every week,” he added.

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