Belfast Telegraph

Bailey Peacock-Farrell sets sights on perfect six for Northern Ireland

 

Northern Ireland goalkeeper Bailey Peacock-Farrell
Northern Ireland goalkeeper Bailey Peacock-Farrell
Winning feeling: Michael O’Neill wants two victories

By Paul Ferguson

Determined Bailey Peacock-Farrell hopes Northern Ireland can claim a maximum of six points against Estonia and Belarus on this trip to eastern Europe - so the men in green can have the chance to shape their own Euro 2020 qualifying destiny.

The Leeds United goalkeeper flew into Tallinn yesterday afternoon with his international team-mates from Northern Ireland's training base in Austria in confident mood ahead of Saturday night's clash with the Estonians at the A Le Coq Arena.

But the 22-year-old from Darlington is aware, despite Northern Ireland's victories over Estonia and Belarus in March, that the host nations will be completely different propositions on their home turf.

Their players are in the thick of their domestic action while Michael O'Neill's men have been in training camps in Manchester and Austria.

Northern Ireland face the might of Germany and the Netherlands home and away in the autumn, therefore Peacock-Farrell is keen to have a platform - 12 points at top of Group C - to battle from against the European heavyweights.

He doesn't want to be seeking favours from other nations in the group, praying that they might be able to snatch a draw with the Germans or Dutch.

"We have obviously started off really well by securing the two wins which is what we needed," says the Leeds United stopper.

"We've got two really hard games in September and October against really tough opposition and we need to go into those games in the best possible position that we can be in.

"We really need to come out with maximum points here - otherwise it'll come down to helping hands from other teams, and ideally we'd want to have things in our control."

Yesterday in Tallinn the temperature rose to 30 degrees and, even though a few thunderstorms are expected, it will still be extremely hot for the 7.00pm kick-off on Saturday.

Having been on last year's Central America tour, where the conditions were stifling, Peacock-Farrell is aware how much the heat can take it out of the Northern Ireland players, but he insists their warm weather training in Austria this week will have them well prepared to perform in the intense heat in Tallinn.

"From looking at the forecast it's going to be mid to high 20s, but we had quite similar weather in Austria the first day we arrived," admits Peacock-Farrell.

"It was hard, but we kind of got used to it.

"At night it's a different heat anyway, however I don't mind it, I don't have to run. It's the rest of the boys who are doing 10-12km.

"It kind of zaps your energy a bit, makes you a bit more relaxed, it's quite intense on the body, on the mind.

"I've played in heat like this before in Panama, played in Myanmar with Leeds, so it's all quite heavy heat and humid.

"I've done it before so it's not new to me."

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