Belfast Telegraph

Boss has given Northern Ireland U21s belief we can silence the big guns, says Kyle McClean

Undaunted: Kyle McClean is confident Northern Ireland U21s will rise to the occasion against Group 8 top seeds Denmark
Undaunted: Kyle McClean is confident Northern Ireland U21s will rise to the occasion against Group 8 top seeds Denmark

By Steven Beacom

Ian Baraclough has given the Northern Ireland Under-21 side belief that they can win big games away from home, according to midfielder Kyle McClean.

Baraclough's team are in Denmark tonight (5pm) for a Euro 2021 qualifier and have an equally tough fixture on the road against Romania on Monday as they seek their first victory in the campaign.

Close to qualifying for the 2019 Euro finals, Northern Ireland's under 21s have started this campaign with draws at home to Malta and away to Finland.

What was so impressive last time was Northern Ireland's fantastic form on their travels winning three out of five including a stunning 2-1 success against Spain.

"We are really well organised and hard to beat and Ian has made us play in a quick style which nations abroad don't really like," says McClean, who after an impressive loan spell with Linfield last season left St Johnstone in September.

"In the last campaign I wished I would have played a bit more but no one can deny the job Ian has done.

"He's given us more belief. The under-21s hadn't experienced too many wins before the last campaign and when we kicked off with a last minute win in Estonia that was such a boost and we kicked on from there.

"He is always saying to believe in ourselves when we play the bigger nations and that we can get a result.

"The victory in Spain obviously stands out from last time and we were very unlucky not to reach a play-off for the finals.

"In the previous campaign we had a bit more experience than we have in the current squad but technically we have a lot of really good players. We would have wanted to have won our first game versus Malta but two matches in we are unbeaten and now we have to build on that.

"Denmark are the top seeds in the group so we are expecting a step up from the Finland game. It will be interesting to see how this squad deals with being away from home and playing big games and hopefully we can get something out of the two games."

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