Belfast Telegraph

England in Euro draw? No thanks, says O'Neill

By Steven Beacom

Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill has revealed that he wants to AVOID England in tonight's Euro 2016 group draw in Paris.

O'Neill is not fearful about taking Roy Hodgson's side on in France next year, but would prefer to steer clear of all the hype that would come with the fixture which last took place in 2005 when David Healy famously scored the winning goal at Windsor Park.

Northern Ireland are in Pot 4 along with Martin O'Neill's Republic of Ireland side and Wales. They can't draw each other, but one may come up against England who are amongst the top seeds.

O'Neill said: "The big thing for me is that an England game overshadows everything.

"Everyone will focus on 'you're playing England, you're playing England.'

"There's three games in the Euro 2016 group stages and you have to find a way of getting four points to get out of the group. Four will give you a good chance, three might be well be enough.

"An England game could possibly be detrimental to that. If it comes though, we'll deal with it."

O'Neill plans to stay on in France after tonight's draw to finalise the team's base for next year.

Belfast Telegraph