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'I look forward to that day': Michael O'Neill writes open letter to Northern Ireland fans on day of postponed play-off

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Michael O’Neill has issued a heartfelt message to supporters.

Michael O’Neill has issued a heartfelt message to supporters.

Michael O’Neill has issued a heartfelt message to supporters.

Northern Ireland fans should have been settling down in front of the box for a dramatic evening of Euro 2020 play-off action tonight.

Hundreds would even have made the trip to Bosnia by now and be warming up their vocal chords to help roar Michael O'Neill's team on towards the finals.

The reality is rather different but with both the play-offs and the tournaments itself postponed due to the coronavirus, Northern Ireland boss O'Neill has penned a hope-filled open letter to the Green and White Army.

The play-offs have been pencilled in for June 4th and 9th although, with the duration of the pandemic as yet unknown, it remains uncertain whether or not those will proceed as planned.

Should they be further postponed, it is perhaps unlikely that Stoke City boss O'Neill would remain in the international hot-seat long enough to oversee the game.

Regardless, it's a day that he is eagerly anticipating as the sporting world waits its rebirth.

"If we all follow the rules then hopefully it won’t be too long before you, the GAWA, get to sing your hearts out again. I very much look forward to that day," he said, pleading with the public to obey government protocols.

"While both the squad and myself are disappointed not to be in action today, we are all conscious of the fact we are in the midst of a global crisis.

"Football players, managers and coaches are not immune to the potential effects of this deadly virus. We have family members and friends who are classed as vulnerable. We care for them deeply and don’t want them to come to any harm.

"We can help to keep our loved ones safe by working together in tackling the spread of Covid-19 and following the guidelines issued by the Government and the health authorities. It is in everyone’s best interests to do so.

"Stay at home if you can. If you do have to go outside please ensure it is only to get food or that it’s for health reasons or essential work.

"And if you go outside to exercise – once a day is permitted – then make sure you observe the rules by staying two metres (six feet) away from other people.  And don’t forget to wash your hands as soon as you get home."

O'Neill also advised people to stay in contact with one another through phone calls and social media until such times as the government instructions are relaxed and something resembling normal life, including sport, can return.

"The match against Bosnia and Herzegovina has been rescheduled for June. It may or may not take place then.

"I am sure that when it eventually does go ahead we will be able to count on your support as we once again strive to qualify for a major tournament."

Belfast Telegraph