Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland will have two unbelievable nights at Windsor when Germany and Holland arrive, says excited Gavin Whyte


Flying high: Gavin Whyte
Flying high: Gavin Whyte
Relishing it: Gavin Whyte wants a crack at the big guns
Familiar face: Virgil van Dijk will be coming to Windsor

By Steven Beacom

Gavin Whyte insists Northern Ireland are intent on shocking the football world and reaching the Euro 2020 finals despite being drawn in the same group as Germany and Holland.

Against two of the giants of the game, Michael O'Neill's side face the toughest of tests in their bid to finish in the top two of Group C which would seal automatic qualification.

Northern Ireland will also meet Estonia and Belarus in their quest to repeat the heroics of Euro 2016.

Originally the Republic of Ireland were drawn with the Dutch and Germans but they were moved to Group D under competition rules because Group C already contained two host nations. New Republic boss Mick McCarthy was relieved to end up with Switzerland, Denmark, Georgia and Gibraltar.

Oxford United winger Whyte admits Northern Ireland face a massive challenge but says anything is possible, pointing to his own career as an example.

Six months ago, 22-year-old Whyte was at Crusaders. Since then he has scored at international level, established himself in the Northern Ireland squad and is shining in League One. Next year, with the Euro 2020 qualifiers starting in March, he will be taking on world-class defenders such as Holland's Virgil van Dijk and Germany's Mats Hummels.

Whyte said: "No one expected Northern Ireland to qualify for Euro 2016 at the start of that and we won't be expected to qualify this time either but you never know.

"Stranger things have happened in football and we will certainly give it our best shot.

"It's some draw for Northern Ireland. Obviously the Republic got a kinder draw and I would have fancied us to qualify with that one, but we can look forward to our group because there are some matches to savour especially against Germany and Holland in Belfast. Those games will be unbelievable.

"Van Dijk is a great defender for Holland and one of the best in the world and Germany have incredible defenders too so to be up against people like that would be amazing for me given where I have come from in a short space of time.

"I need to keep doing what I am doing at club level and in training with Northern Ireland and hopefully I'll get picked for games in the Euro 2020 qualifying campaign and if I was selected it would be amazing to play against teams like Germany and Holland.

"It will be very hard for us. International football is a different level and this draw is tough but we have a good squad and are capable of getting big results so we will enter the campaign in positive mood."

Belfast Telegraph


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