Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 17 September 2014

O'Neill worried by lack of goals

Michael O'Neill has yet to taste victory in nine matches at the helm for Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill admits curing his side's ills in front of goal will be no easy task.

The team's scoring struggle is at the heart of their uninspiring start to life under O'Neill, who has yet to taste victory in nine matches at the helm. In five World Cup qualifiers to date they have found the net just three times, all in draws, and have surrendered plenty of winnable points along the way.

He said: "It's not just the forwards, right through the team we've been missing chances."

They created more than enough chances to put away both Luxembourg and Azerbaijan at home and were on top for much of Tuesday night's 2-0 defeat to Israel only to pay for their lack of goals by conceding twice in the last 13 minutes.

O'Neill knows his side must begin finding the target soon, but with record goalscorer David Healy now limited to cameos from the bench and no natural successor emerging from the pack that will be a challenge.

"We got a wee bit of a lesson from Israel in terms of being clinical," said the former Shamrock Rovers boss.

"But it's not as though I can go out and buy a striker, we don't have that luxury.

"We did miss (the suspended) Kyle Lafferty last night, no doubt. David has had a marvellous career for us but he's not playing regular club football and his impact may be limited coming off the bench.

"The other players we have in that position are very inexperienced at international level.

"We do a lot of attacking play, working on movement and shape and you can do all that in training but the players know themselves when we've had the opportunities we've not done well enough with conversion in any of the games."

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