Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland v San Marino: Minnows will have no answer for Northern Ireland firepower, maintains David Healy

By Graham Luney

David Healy expects Michael O'Neill to unleash at least two frontmen on San Marino in a bid to blow away the minnows.

Northern Ireland barely laid a glove on the Czech Republic in the opening match of their World Cup qualifying campaign but fans are expecting goals at the official opening of the new, improved Windsor Park tonight.

The Northern Ireland boss is likely to adopt an attacking formation with Conor Washington or Josh Magennis up top with Kyle Lafferty, who was an isolated figure when leading the line in Prague.

Healy, his country's record goalscorer with 36 goals, can understand Lafferty's frustration at Norwich City but he still believes O'Neill's men will find their finishing touch against San Marino.

"I've been in Kyle's situation and you want to be playing games and getting minutes on the pitch," said the Linfield boss.

"Michael will have had the formation against San Marino in his mind for a while. He might go with the two centre forwards and have a right go at them."

Healy has also called on Northern Ireland's critics to take a chill pill and trust O'Neill to perform more heroics.

The astonishing Euro 2016 qualifying campaign which saw Northern Ireland reach France and defy the odds by making the last 16 has raised expectation levels and fans don't want to wait another 30 years for major tournament action.

A scoreless draw against in Prague was viewed as two points dropped by many observers but Healy takes a very different view.

"I was slightly disappointed with the reaction to the draw in Prague," he added.

"Some people said it wasn't really a polished performance but in my eyes it's a draw away from home and a clean sheet.

"People were saying 'they should have done this and that better' and now, all of a sudden, people are having opinions on Michael (O'Neill) and the players. I say let them get on and do the job. I don't see us having any problems beating San Marino."

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