Belfast Telegraph

There's a bit of David Healy about clever Shayne Lavery, says Dowie

Shayne Lavery came off the bench to earn his second cap against Luxembourg
Shayne Lavery came off the bench to earn his second cap against Luxembourg

By Stuart McKinley in the Sunday Life

Former Northern Ireland international Iain Dowie is excited by the attacking options that Michael O'Neill has in front of him for tomorrow night's massive Euro 2020 qualifier against Germany.

And the 59-times capped ex-striker has boldly predicted that Linfield's European hero Shayne Lavery can be the man to unlock the Germany defence and send the Green and White Army a step closer to a second successive European finals.

Lavery banged in four goals during the Blues history-making run to the Europa League play-offs and won admirers for his dynamic display in Thursday night's 1-0 win over Luxembourg, when he came off the bench for the final 35 minutes.

Now Dowie believes the former Everton trainee is ready to rattle the Germans - even comparing 20-year-old Lavery's style to his current boss, Northern Ireland's record goalscorer David Healy.

"I hate to put pressure on his shoulders, but I will. What I see about Shayne Lavery, I like his movement, there is a cleverness about it and 'Healy-esque' is the wrong thing to say because it's huge pressure, but he looks like he has a bit of that about him," said Dowie.

Niall McGinn, Josh Magennis and Conor Washington have all scored important goals during the campaign so far and they could form the attacking trio in O'Neill's line-up to take on the Germans at Windsor Park.

With Kyle Lafferty - the current highest scorer in the squad and second in the all-time list - and Lavery also in the reckoning, O'Neill has options that could cause the German's problems.

"What I like about Michael is that he is very pragmatic and he adjusts for the opposition, so now we don't look like we are going to lose against the smaller nations, but we also adjust to play against the better nations," added Dowie.

"Michael will come up with a game plan and it will be fascinating to see who he plays up front.

"He doesn't have Liam Boyce or Paul Smyth, which is a bit of a blow. The other side of it is that Shayne Lavery looks sharp, although it's a big step for him, and then you've got Kyle Lafferty, Josh Magennis and Conor Washington and it will be one of those I suspect, with maybe Niall McGinn wide."

Dowie famously captained Northern Ireland to a 1-1 draw with Germany in November 1996 - just a few months after they had been crowned as European champions.

Bryan Hamilton's team spoilt the home-coming party that night and Dowie believes recent home form at Windsor Park will have the Germans on-guard.

"It excites me. Every time I think about it, there's a smile on my face. It's an amazing fixture," he said.

"We have started so well and I don't think Germany will be relishing coming here. I really don't.

"What we need is someone to pop up with three or four goals between now and the end of the campaign that just gets us over the line.

"I think one win gets us there, which is bizarre, but we may well do it and let's hope so."

◊ Iain Dowie completed the Belfast leg of the Prostate Cancer UK Four Nations March for Men, led by Sky Sports personality Jeff Stelling

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