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NI fitting in Tallinn friendly ahead of Switzerland duel

International football


Northern Ireland manager Ian Baraclough

Northern Ireland manager Ian Baraclough

William Cherry/Presseye

Northern Ireland manager Ian Baraclough

Northern Ireland have announced an extra friendly fixture against Estonia in September.

Ian Baraclough's side are already scheduled to play Lithuania away in a 2022 World Cup qualifier on September 2 and will now face Estonia in Tallinn on September 5.

The friendly against Estonia at the A Le Coq Arena will form part of the team's preparations for their World Cup qualifier against Switzerland in Belfast on September 8.

The number of spectators allowed will depend on the Estonian government's Covid regulations at that time.

Northern Ireland faced Estonia twice in their European Championship 2020 qualifying group, winning 2-0 at home and 2-1 in Tallinn in 2019.

Estonia, who have a new head coach in Thomas Häberli, are in the same World Cup qualifying group as Wales, Belgium, Czech Republic and Belarus.

Baraclough's side are scheduled to return to action next month when they take on World Cup qualifying Group C rivals Italy in Parma on March 25 and Bulgaria at Windsor Park on March 31. Another friendly should be arranged for March 28 with Greece possible opponents.

Baraclough, meanwhile, has been discussing the merits of performance analysis with students on a degree course run by Ulster University in partnership with the Irish Football Association.

The BSc Hons Football Coaching and Business Management degree is usually delivered on a fast-track part-time basis at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park, however during the Covid-19 pandemic it is being delivered remotely.

Course director Kyle Ferguson said: "We were delighted Ian made himself available to speak to all the students on the degree course. The partnership between Ulster University and the Irish FA provides unique opportunities for our students to hear from experts such as Ian.

"It was a fantastic insight into football at the top level which touched on so many of the learning outcomes across a number of modules the students are studying, such as performance analysis, strategic business management and coaching. It was also an inspiring session for the students, which is so badly needed given the pressures everyone is facing due to Covid-19."

Belfast Telegraph