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Euro finals hero McGovern says we are even better now

By Steven Beacom

Goalkeeper Michael McGovern believes Northern Ireland should have belief that they can qualify for the 2018 World Cup, insisting they are an even better side now than the one which qualified for the Euro 2016 finals.

The Fermanagh man feels the experiences in France last summer, in which he played a starring role, most notably against Germany, have helped improve and develop Michael O'Neill's team. And the Norwich City star states there is a burning desire within the camp to reach another major tournament with all eyes on Russia next year.

McGovern, who has excelled at international level for the last 12 months, is hoping the positive mindset can produce a vital victory over Norway on Sunday in a crunch Group C encounter at Windsor Park.

"Qualifying and playing in the Euro finals was an incredible experience for the team. It showed us what tournament football was all about and helped us develop and improve as a side," said McGovern (left).

"We gained a lot of confidence from our performances in France and have taken it into the World Cup campaign. We are in second place behind Germany in our group and the belief amongst the players is that we can stay there and earn a play-off.

"Beating Norway at Windsor Park would be a major boost towards that aim and we'll go into the game feeling that it is a great opportunity to put another win on the board."

Preparing with his players at Carton House, just outside Dublin, manager O'Neill has called Sheffield United defender Daniel Lafferty into his panel.

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