Northern Ireland v Norway: O'Neill calls on Northern Ireland fans to give team a boost
Michael O'Neill has called for Northern Ireland fans to welcome in a new era by throwing their support behind the team at Windsor Park tonight.
O'Neill takes charge of his country for the first time against Norway, with a new captain in tow in the shape of Rangers midfielder Steven Davis.
And the former Shamrock Rovers boss is also hoping for a fresh start with the Green and White Army, who grew audibly frustrated towards the end of a disappointing Euro 2012 campaign.
Former manager Nigel Worthington shouldered most of the flak then and O'Neill has appealed for supporters to back their team from the off against Egil Olsen's side.
"It's a new start under a new manager," said O'Neill.
"You can understand the frustration of the supporters, but no-one feels the pain of defeat any more than the players, I can assure them of that.
"I think as a supporter it's important to recognise how positive their influence can be, not only for our team but also in making the atmosphere hostile for the opposition.
"An energetic and positive performance from the lads can hopefully transmit into a positive atmosphere (in the stands).
"It's no secret the last campaign finished on a disappointing note. The players know that, everyone knows that, but that unrealistic weight of expectancy is something the players have maybe struggled to deal with in the past.
"A bit of perspective would be nice."
O'Neill confirmed Davis would lead the side for the foreseeable future yesterday, despite former skipper Aaron Hughes' decision to reverse his retirement and return to the squad after less than six months.
"Steven Davis is the captain and he will be the captain going forward," said O'Neill.
"I just thought at this stage of his career and with a new manager coming in it was maybe time and it would benefit the squad.
"I had a long chat with Aaron about the situation and he was, as you'd expect, totally supportive and understanding.
"He didn't have any expectation to come back as captain having made his decision (to retire) towards the end of the last campaign, he was very supportive of Steven and very supportive of the decision."
Derby's Jamie Ward is a major doubt for the hosts after complaining of a tight thigh muscle yesterday.
Celtic defender Thomas Rogne will win his first cap for Norway after captain Brede Hangeland was ruled out with a thigh injury of his own.
Rogne had been promised some involvement in the match by Olsen and has now been drafted into the starting XI after Fulham centre-half Hangeland dropped out.
Rogne is one of four British-based players set to start at Windsor Park, with Hangeland's Cottagers team-mate John Arne-Riise in the side alongside Blackburn's Morten Gamst Pedersen and Erik Huseklepp, who is on loan at Birmingham from Portsmouth.