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5 talking points ahead of Northern Ireland’s Euro 2020 qualifier against Germany

Saturday’s draw with Holland ended Northern Ireland’s hopes of automatic qualification.

Michael O’Neill will take charge of Northern Ireland for one of the final times on Tuesday (Liam McBurney/PA)
Michael O’Neill will take charge of Northern Ireland for one of the final times on Tuesday (Liam McBurney/PA)

By Ian Parker, PA, Frankfurt

Northern Ireland wrap up their Euro 2020 qualifying Group C fixtures with a trip to face Germany in Frankfurt on Tuesday night.

Here the PA media agency takes a look at the key talking points ahead of the match.

Dead rubber

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Saturday’s draw with Holland ended Northern Ireland’s hopes of automatic qualification (Liam McBurney/PA)

Saturday’s goalless draw with Holland at Windsor Park ended any lingering hopes Northern Ireland had of qualifying automatically for next summer’s finals so there is little for the Green and White Army to play for. Germany are assured of their place so will likewise be in a more relaxed mood, though they will still want to ensure they top the group, starting the night two points clear of Holland.

Play-offs beckon

Though there is nothing riding on this match, Northern Ireland will be studying the results across Europe as they look to the play-offs next March. The draw will be made in Nyon on Friday, but under UEFA’s complicated system which takes into account results from the Nations League, the list of possible opponents could shrink significantly before then depending on who else secures automatic qualification.

Succession planning

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Stephen Robinson is one man in the frame for the Northern Ireland job (Jeff Holmes/PA)

Michael O’Neill reiterated his plan to remain in charge for those play-offs alongside his new role as Stoke boss, but thoughts are already turning to his future replacement. Reports this week suggest the Irish FA is ready to talk to Motherwell boss Stephen Robinson in the coming days, while the likes of Ian Baraclough and Tommy Wright have also been linked with the role.

Big scalp

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Steven Davis missed a penalty in the draw with Holland (Liam McBurney/PA)

O’Neill has himself pointed out the one thing missing from his eight years in charge of Northern Ireland is a truly big scalp. The best chance to change that perhaps came on Saturday night when Steven Davis missed a penalty in a 0-0 draw with Holland at Windsor Park, but Tuesday’s match offers one more chance. Few would put much money on Northern Ireland pulling it off, but famous wins do not come easily.

Lewis out

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Jamal Lewis (centre) will miss the game with a knee injury (Liam McBurney/PA)

Northern Ireland will make at least one enforced change after Jamal Lewis withdrew from the squad with a knee injury aggravated on Saturday. The Norwich left-back also missed the international fixtures last month with a similar issue, and Shane Ferguson started in his place against Holland in Rotterdam.

PA

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