Jim Magilton is forecasting a bright future for Northern Ireland's teenage under-21 players – despite a run of five successive defeats.
They will go into battle with Cyprus this evening at Mourneview Park looking for their first point of the 2015 European Championship qualifying campaign, but Irish FA Elite Performance Director Magilton – who is standing in for Stephen Robinson while he is on duty with the under-17s – is expecting a better showing when the shortened 2016 campaign begins.
"We are trying to get results with this team, but it's not the be all and end all," said Magilton.
"We have lads like Luke Conlan, Liam Donnelly, Jamie Sendles-White, Luke McCullough and Cameron McGeehan who are all going to be around for at least the next campaign, if not the one after as well and they'll be much better for the experience of this one.
"Their attitude in training and their application to everything we have asked them to do has been tremendous.
"People will look at the Italy game last week and think that 3-0 was a hammering, but they scored a world-class goal to go 1-0 up and then for 85 minutes we matched them before they hit us with two breakaway goals in the final five minutes when we tired, so there are plenty of positives for us to take."