Northern Ireland Women will head to Marbella for a 10-day training camp next month that will also see them play three friendlies as preparation for their upcoming World Cup qualifiers.
Kenny Shiels’ girls will head to the Marbella Football Centre on the Costa del Sol from February 14-23 to prepare, where they will take on the Faroe Islands, Switzerland and Romania.
The Faroes are up first on February 17, Northern Ireland’s first opponents of the new year, before they take on Switzerland on February 20 and finally Romania on February 23.
The games against Switzerland and Romania in particular should prove a good testing ground for Shiels’ squad as both are ranked above them in the world rankings and will fancy their chances at reaching the finals.
The Swiss are 17th in the world and will also be competing at Euro 2022 this summer, boasting some elite talents such as their captain, Arsenal’s Lia Wälti, and PSG midfielder Ramona Bachmann, with Barcelona Ana-Maria Crnogorčević one of the top European defenders.
At 42nd, Romania are only four places higher than Northern Ireland and will provide a good barometer of how the team are tracking moving into the qualifiers given they should, on paper, be fairly evenly matched, while the Faroese will be very familiar opponents after Northern Ireland thumped them 6-0 and 5-1 in their Euro qualifiers in 2020.
Northern Ireland are back in competitive action in April when they head to Austria and welcome England and taking part in a training camp at a facility like Marbella – where the top nations frequently train ahead of major tournaments – will only stand them in good stead.
“We are really looking forward to these three games in Spain. It will provide us with a measurement of our programme and its progression,” said manager Shiels.
“We are constantly trying to teach and learn from our time with the players. This trip will give us ideal preparation for April's World Cup qualifiers. Everything we do is to help the players prepare to prepare.
“During February we will look to step up our performance levels to ensure we reach maximum standards.”