| -1.1°C Belfast

Jamal Lewis: Northern Ireland back ourselves to beat Bosnia and tee up Euro 2020 decider

Newcastle ace sure NI have tools to beat Bosnia and seal play-off final at Windsor

Close

Jamal Lewis is fit to star for Northern Ireland after a recent eye injury.

Jamal Lewis is fit to star for Northern Ireland after a recent eye injury.

William Cherry/Presseye

Masked raiders: Northern Ireland’s Stuart Dallas and Kyle Lafferty with physio Darren McMaster at the Stadion Grbavica in Sarajevo last night

Masked raiders: Northern Ireland’s Stuart Dallas and Kyle Lafferty with physio Darren McMaster at the Stadion Grbavica in Sarajevo last night

/

Jamal Lewis is fit to star for Northern Ireland after a recent eye injury.

Northern Ireland's most expensive player Jamal Lewis has issued a rallying call ahead of the biggest game of his life, insisting that if Ian Baraclough's side play with the intensity they are capable of they will win tonight's Euro 2020 play-off semi-final away to Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The £15m Newcastle United defender is relishing the prospect of the Sarajevo clash knowing that victory would put him and the team into a Windsor Park decider next month and just 90 minutes away from a major tournament.

Although only 22, there is a refreshing self-belief in Lewis, helped by his big summer move to Newcastle from Norwich in a deal that could rise to £20m with add-ons.

And having played against Bosnia home and away in the Nations League, he feels if Northern Ireland are at their best they can deliver a famous result.

"I've been looking forward to this game for a while now. They obviously have some quality with Miralem Pjanic and Edin Dzeko but overall we really do back ourselves to beat them, especially if we bring the intensity we know we can over 90 minutes. If we do that we can come out on top," insisted Lewis.

Daily Headlines & Evening Telegraph Newsletter

Receive today's headlines directly to your inbox every morning and evening, with our free daily newsletter.

This field is required

"I've played them twice and although we lost both games in the Nations League, the one at home, I don't know how we didn't get a result. Even away as well, that was unfortunate.

"They were two great performances from the team and I think we will bring a lot of confidence into the game. I have sensed it around the camp since Sunday that the boys are ready."

Lewis wasn't around for Northern Ireland's memorable Euro 2016 journey but, knowing what is at stake, he is determined to shine in Bosnia this evening.

"It is the only game so far in my international career that will have a certain type of knockout factor, so these are the types of games you want to play in at this level to showcase what you can do and be part of a successful group," said the left-back.

"Most of this group went to the last Euro finals. If I can be part of doing it this time it would be great. I was hoping we could be there this summer and with it being postponed until 2021 I now have an eye on next summer with this team."

Asked what was missing in the Nations League defeats and what needs to change for tonight, Lewis replied: "A little bit of clinical edge."

Lewis added: “I remember in the away game I slipped for one of the goals, I made a slight error. We have to be clinical in both boxes.

“When we played them at home, I’ve not been part of many games where I’ve dominated a team that much. I felt that they couldn’t really get out of their half but somehow they managed to get a result, so we are going in with a lot of confidence.

“You have to take into consideration that they’re a good national team but, especially from being on the pitch against them, there’s no reason why we can’t go toe-to-toe against this side.

“We’re a team that’s best on the front foot, with everyone reading off the same page basically. When we’re pressing teams, suffocating them, being the aggressors, that will allow us to play our game and put our stamp on the game. That’s the message we’re getting from the manager.”

Lewis was a target for Liverpool in the summer following Norwich’s relegation to the Championship but when the clubs failed to agree a fee, Newcastle stepped in with Lewis already impressing the Toon Army.

He said: “It’s been a decent start personally, and a good start for the team. I’m just looking to build on that.

“Obviously it’s been a time of change for me, settling down in a new city and adjusting to my new surroundings.

“I was struggling a bit with fitness the last few weeks, but I feel like I’ve really found my feet. I just look forward to helping the team and driving them forward.”

Niall McGinn, meanwhile, has insisted there will be no hangover from the 5-1 Nations League horror show at home to Norway.

“Off the back of the Norway defeat, that was disappointing, but we’ve got that out of our system now. We’re just looking forward,” said McGinn.

“This game has always been on the back-burner as the most important one.

“It’s definitely the most important one, the one we’ll concentrate on the most.

“Now everybody is match-fit and raring to go, and we have a very healthy squad to choose from.”


Top Videos



Privacy