Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland can be heroes against Uruguay, says Michael O'Neill

Michael insists there's no fear factor with Uruguay

By Stuart McKinley

Michael O'Neill believes that his youthful Northern Ireland side can provide a pre-World Cup shock for Uruguay – because he claims their Brazil-bound opponents don't have anything that will catch him by surprise.

O'Neill has travelled with half a dozen uncapped players in his squad for meetings with Uruguay and Chile, although Liverpool teenager Ryan McLaughlin is the only one likely to start the first game.

Northern Ireland's chances of pulling off an unexpected result in Montevideo tomorrow morning (12.30am kick-off) received a boost, however, when the South American side's main goal threat, Liverpool star Luis Suarez, was ruled out of the friendly after undergoing minor knee surgery last week.

Fears that the Anfield ace could miss the World Cup have rocked the Uruguyans and O'Neill is now ready to take advantage, against a team that only made it to Brazil via a play-off victory over Jordan.

"Uruguay haven't had a fantastic two years of results," said O'Neill.

"They finished fifth in World Cup qualifying and won a play-off with Jordan.

"They scored 25 and conceded 25, and they're heavily dependent on a front two, (Edinson) Cavani and Suarez, who are on a par with anything in the world.

"Suarez is not playing, which is a great bonus from our point of view and I don't think there'll be any real surprises – they're not a team that really forces the issue."

Belfast Telegraph

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