Belfast Telegraph

Friday 26 December 2014

Northern Ireland women's team must add a clinical edge to game: Alfie Wyli

Return: Simone Magill is back in the squad after an injury spell
Return: Simone Magill is back in the squad after an injury spell

Alfie Wylie wants his Northern Ireland women's team to turn performances into points so that they aren't left reflecting on what might have been for the next six months.

The difficulty, however, is scoring the goals that will give them a first victory of 2013.

The girls face Poland at Mourneview Park this afternoon (3pm) in their third World Cup qualifier in the space of a month and they have yet to find the net after a 2-0 defeat to Scotland and a scoreless draw against Bosnia.

They will be boosted this time though by the return to fitness of two players most likely to end the goal drought in the shape of Everton's Simone Magill and Rachel Furness of Sunderland after they missed last month's double-header.

"We dominated the game against Bosnia and we should have been out of sight, but as with Northern Ireland teams down the years our problem is putting the ball in the back of the net," said Wylie.

"Rachel Furness has been our main goalscorer for a while and Ashley Hutton – for a centre-half – has scored regularly too.

"We can't just rely on those players though and we have to hope that Simone Magill will progress at Everton and become someone who gets important goals.

"Marissa Callaghan from Cliftonville has come into the squad and she could provide goals for us, but we have to look to set-pieces and hope that Ashley or Julie Nelson can get their head on something as well."

Wylie has bolstered his squad with the additions of Manchester City's Lynda Shepherd and Laura Rafferty, who has graduated from Chelsea's Academy into the first team.

Both girls have a family background in Northern Ireland and as well as Nelson now playing with Glasgow City and Magill joining Everton, the number of players plying their trade in England and Scotland bodes well for the future.

"It's good that we've found a couple of players who are eligible for us and others who have made the move, but we can't lose focus on developing our own players," said Wylie.

"In fact we have found that some of our local based players are fitter in the tests that we do, which shows that our training programme is working."

The next game is against group favourites Sweden in April, followed by a trip to the Faroe Islands, but Wylie doesn't want to have to wait that long for a first victory of the World Cup campaign.

"Ultimately we want to win matches and although we are working hard on things off the pitch, working hard in training and playing well in matches, that's what people judge you on," said Wylie.

"We certainly don't want to lose the game when we don't play again until next April.

"Players have pride and a couple of good results will give them confidence and belief to push on and do even better at international level."

COMMENT RULES: Comments that are judged to be defamatory, abusive or in bad taste are not acceptable and contributors who consistently fall below certain criteria will be permanently blacklisted. The moderator will not enter into debate with individual contributors and the moderator’s decision is final. It is Belfast Telegraph policy to close comments on court cases, tribunals and active legal investigations. We may also close comments on articles which are being targeted for abuse. Problems with commenting? customercare@belfasttelegraph.co.uk

Nightlife galleries

More

Latest Sport News

Stats Centre