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Northern Ireland would have been a different animal if Austria visit had been a proper qualifier and hopefully they'll prove it against Slovakia

Steven Beacom


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Kyle Lafferty returned to a Northern Ireland starting XI that included five changes.

Kyle Lafferty returned to a Northern Ireland starting XI that included five changes.

PA

Kyle Lafferty returned to a Northern Ireland starting XI that included five changes.

Maybe it’s just the Nations League. That’s six defeats and one draw now in UEFA’s new competition. After their 1-0 victory at Windsor Park last night, Austria have beaten Northern Ireland THREE times in the tournament.

Yet had any of these fixtures been a World Cup or European Championship qualifier, you can’t help feeling the results would have been different.

Northern Ireland players are a different animal in the majors. The tiger in them comes out then, roaring and on the prowl. Tonight, it was fast asleep in Ian Baraclough’s fourth match in charge.