Belfast Telegraph

UK Website Of The Year

Home Sport Football

Northern Ireland v Slovenia talking points

Published 27/03/2016

Northern Ireland can make history by avoiding defeat on Monday night
Northern Ireland can make history by avoiding defeat on Monday night

Northern Ireland will be seeking more history in Belfast on Monday night when Slovenia visit as part of their Euro 2016 preparations.

Here, Press Association Sport looks at the talking points as the hosts bid to extend their unbeaten streak to 10 games.

CAN NORTHERN IRELAND MAKE HISTORY?

Having reached their first major international tournament for 30 years, the class of 2016 have another landmark in their crosshairs. The 1-1 draw with Wales on Thursday equalled the nine-game unbeaten streak Billy Bingham's side managed in 1985-86 en route to the World Cup in Mexico. Anything but defeat on Monday will see them set a new benchmark.

WILL MICHAEL O'NEILL PLAY 3-5-2 AGAIN?

Manager Michael O'Neill is prepared to continue alternating formations in the build-up to France, despite his team looking far more comfortable in a 4-3-3 in the second half against Wales. Three at the back allows O'Neill to include Jonny Evans, Craig Cathcart and Gareth McAuley, but are they more effective with two wider players off spearhead Kyle Lafferty?

CAN CONOR WASHINGTON FURTHER HIS EURO 2016 CLAIM?

Washington's Northern Ireland debut lasted just 45 minutes before he was sacrificed as part of the system change in Cardiff. This is the penultimate friendly before O'Neill confirms who he will be taking to the Euros so Washington, a 23-year-old striker born in Kent, will be desperate to prove his worth if given the chance alongside Lafferty.

WILL THERE BE WHOLESALE CHANGES?

With the incentive of breaking the all-time record for unbeaten games, O'Neill may consider naming as strong a team as possible at Windsor Park. That could be bad news for those on the fringes of the team, who are running out of time to prove they are worthy of a starting spot against Poland in their Euro 2016 opener on June 12.

CAN THE HOSTS FIND A WAY PAST JAN OBLAK?

Inter Milan goalkeeper Samir Handanovic retired after Slovenia failed to qualify for Euro 2016 and his place in the team has been taken by Atletico Madrid's Jan Oblak. The 23-year-old is the stand-out name in Srecko Katanec's squad and could ensure it is a frustrating evening for Lafferty, Washington and company.

Read More

From Belfast Telegraph