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Conor Hazard insists Northern Ireland U21s can still qualify for European Championship finals


Conor Hazard

Conor Hazard

PA Archive/PA Images

Conor Hazard

Goalkeeper Conor Hazard insists that the Northern Ireland Under-21 side are not giving up in their quest to qualify for the 2021 European Championship finals.

Northern Ireland earned just three points in the opening half of the campaign, leaving them a long way adrift of group leaders Denmark, but a morale boosting 2-0 win in Malta last week has given Andy Crosby's boys a long shot at making a stunning late surge to a grab runners-up spot which may be enough to move forward in the competition.

Celtic star Hazard has fantastic experience at this level so knows what is required. He has put in a number of heroic performances in the past and may need more of the same this evening at the Ballymena Showgrounds against the Danes, who are 10 points clear of the home side.

"The results so far don't tell the tale of how good our squad is," said Hazard. "There are a lot of young exciting players that will go on and play at a high level. We have had a few unlucky results in the campaign but we just didn't have that finishing touch.

"We have got back in after a year's break and looked at ourselves and have talked with each other and we are going to go for it in the rest of the group.

"We know we have to keep winning to have any chance of qualifying and this bunch of players have the ability, energy and motivation to do it."

On Friday, Hazard had a solid game against Malta on a good night for Northern Ireland goalkeepers, with Bailey Peacock-Farrell spectacular in the senior side's draw in Romania.

"Bailey was unbelievable. If it wasn't for him, the result would have been different so he deserves lots of credit," said Hazard.

Belfast Telegraph