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Fit-again Marissa Callaghan: Norway may not be able to stomach Northern Ireland’s Big Mac in Euro opener

Defiant skipper says Kenny Shiels’s girls are ready stop and stun their big-name opposition

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Marissa Callaghan, pictured at St Mary’s stadium, Southampton, is backing Northern Ireland to stun former world champions Norway

Marissa Callaghan, pictured at St Mary’s stadium, Southampton, is backing Northern Ireland to stun former world champions Norway

William Cherry/Presseye

Marissa Callaghan, pictured at St Mary’s stadium, Southampton, is backing Northern Ireland to stun former world champions Norway

Marissa Callaghan believes that Northern Ireland have the players to not just stop Norway’s world-class strikers, but to also stun the former world champions and make their first appearance in a major tournament one that will go down in folklore.

Barcelona star Caroline Graham Hansen hit a hat-trick against Northern Ireland in qualifying and since topping the group the already formidable Norway attack has welcomed back former Women’s Ballon d’Or winner Ada Hegerberg, who has just won the Women’s Champions League with Lyon, after a five-year self-imposed exile.

In comparison Northern Ireland could line up with two part-time Irish League players in the defensive unit that will fight to keep them at bay at St Mary’s Stadium in Southampton tonight, but that won’t phase Callaghan and her team mates, who did manage to stop England’s record goalscorer Ellen White from adding to her tally in two recent World Cup qualifiers.

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Ada Hegerberg

Ada Hegerberg

AFP via Getty Images

Ada Hegerberg

“We do have Big Mac (Sarah McFadden) in at centre-half, she has stopped a lot of top strikers in the last number of years and I have no doubt that our defence will make it tough for her,” said Callaghan.

“Caroline Graham Hansen is a player with quality, she has pace, she likes to drive at players and she can score goals, but we have a fantastic number of defenders who are up for the challenge.

“Hegerberg is a top player, we know that, but we come up against top players in every game. We played England at Wembley and Windsor Park, we came up against top players in the Austria team recently too.”

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Callaghan declared herself fit after being a doubt with a foot injury before the finals and is now hungry to really make her mark on the big stage.

“We know exactly how hard that challenge is going to be, we know the calibre of player that we are up against, but we are here, we are in the top 16 teams in Europe at the finals and we are here to cause an upset.”


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