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Northern Ireland formation change is a blow for Niall McGinn

Published 09/06/2016

Winger Niall McGinn appreciates Euro 2016 could be a "frustrating" campaign personally due to Northern Ireland's recent formation change.

Michael O'Neill's decision to implement a back three with wing-backs in the run up to France has deprived McGinn of an international start in any of his country's five fixtures since they qualified.

The 28-year-old had started half of the games in the qualification campaign and it was his impact off the bench in the opening win in Hungary, where he scored once and set up Kyle Lafferty for the winner, that set them on the road to a historic group success.

And McGinn accepts he may have to now forge a role as one of O'Neill's go-to options among his replacements because of the system switch which came in following qualification.

"I feel great (but) it's just probably going to be a wee bit frustrating for myself with the formation we're playing with, not playing with any wingers," he conceded.

"Me being me, I'll always be professional, just keeping myself right. When called upon hopefully I can come on and make an impact."

McGinn is set to start on the bench when Northern Ireland face Poland in their opening Euro 2016 clash in three days' time hoping to extend their unbeaten run to 13 games.

None of the 23 nations in France can boast a streak as long as that following Spain's shock defeat to Georgia on Tuesday and McGinn insists it is a run that has garnered respect.

"Teams are going to stand back and look at us as a real threat," he stressed.

"It can only be a good thing. It's tournament football so whatever happens on the day, happens on the day. More importantly, with the talent and the skill we have in the squad and the opportunities we can create, we can be a real threat."

O'Neill's team were given time off training on Thursday for the first time since they arrived in Lyon on Sunday afternoon.

The squad planned to venture out of their Chateau de Pizay hotel for some downtime and McGinn in particular would have been pleased to see the fine weather.

"The IFA have put a lot of planning into the facilities and they've been top notch," he added.

"I've been doing a bit of sunbathing after training the last couple of days. I haven't had many days off in the last couple of years and I have to enjoy that as well as training and working hard.

"Downtime's fine, we have a day off today and we'll go into the local village, get out of the hotel for a couple of hours, get coffees, just chill out, enjoy each other's company. We have to enjoy our days off but when it's time to work we'll work hard.

"The games room has been unbelievable. It helps with any boredom that might creep in but there are good characters in the squad that will keep you entertained as well."

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