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McFadden prepares for awful watching brief but confident of victory



Sarah McFadden

Sarah McFadden

William Cherry/Presseye

Sarah McFadden

Sarah McFadden is readying herself for the most difficult 90 minutes of her international career tomorrow night.

The Northern Ireland vice-captain will kick every ball when Kenny Shiels' team tries to take a step closer to a place in the Women's Euro 2021 play-offs - but, sadly, it will be only figuratively.

Sarah must miss the crucial clash with Belarus at Seaview after picking up a third yellow card of the campaign in last month's 1-0 victory against the same opposition, a result achieved with only 10 players after goalkeeper Jacqueline Burns was sent off.

Naturally, the midfielder would love to be in the thick of the action. Instead, with no spectators in the stadium, Sarah will become the team's No.1 fan - even if it's not a role she expects to enjoy.

"It'll be awful," admitted Sarah, who has won more than 70 caps over a 15-year period.

"I'm just glad to be in and around the squad because I am eligible for the Faroe Islands game on Tuesday. I wouldn't want to be following the game on Twitter or have to watch online.

"I'd been on two yellow cards since the first two games of the campaign. I made one tackle in Belarus and got the yellow card.

"I thought I could get to the end of the campaign, but in the heat of the game and the emotion I got too aggressive, which I shouldn't."

While Sarah has to serve her punishment, the absence of one player creates an opportunity for someone else. It is the same in attack where Northern Ireland's most high-profile female player Simone Magill will be missing after her club, Everton Women, decided to utilise the international break to treat an injury.

The development of the squad under Shiels' instruction is enough to give Sarah the belief that the strength in depth is there to cope without two players with over 130 caps between them.

"I know the girls and I am so confident in them, and with 11 players we will be able to beat Belarus at home," she said.

"We have such depth now and there are two or three players who can come in for me easily.

"Marissa Callaghan is vastly experienced and we've had Samantha Kelly and Joely Andrews in the last few squads. When we're training with them they're a different class and they're pushing you and making you want to get better.

"I know whoever steps in for me will do a great job and they can get us the three points we need. We've beaten Belarus over there, we know what they're all about and we'll be ready for them."

Belfast Telegraph

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