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We must deliver against Estonia and Belarus, maintains Evans

By Steven Beacom

Jonny Evans insists it is vital that Northern Ireland deliver big performances and maximum points against Estonia and Belarus in the Euro 2020 qualifiers.

The eye-catching games for the team will of course involve Netherlands and Germany, but defender Evans appreciates the importance of delivering in the matches versus the so-called lesser lights in the group.

Michael O'Neill's side begin their quest to reach the Euro 2020 finals with a home double header against Estonia and Belarus. The March 21 and March 24 fixtures will give Northern Ireland the chance to start the campaign with six points out of six.

On June 8 and June 11 O'Neill's men will play the corresponding games on the road, again with Estonia up first before a trip to Belarus.

The last time Northern Ireland faced Estonia was in the Euro 2012 campaign. The results effectively ended the reign of Nigel Worthington as manager as Northern Ireland lost 2-1 in Belfast and 4-1 in Tallinn.

"It will be crucial to win those games (against Belarus and Estonia) regardless of how we get on against the bigger teams," said Leicester City defender Evans.

"I don't know much about Estonia or Belarus. However, Michael will do his homework as usual and we will be well prepared when we meet them."

Former Manchester United star Evans has become used to playing Germany in recent years with Northern Ireland suffering losses to Joachim Low's team in the Euro 2016 finals and World Cup qualifiers.

Holland will be something new, though Evans knows all about the qualities of the Dutch.

"The Dutch are a really good side," he said.

"They have some outstanding players, including a crop of great young players at Ajax and the likes of Virgil van Dijk and Georginio Wijnaldum at Liverpool. I think both the Northern Ireland players and the fans will enjoy going to Holland."

Northern Ireland's first game in the Euro 2020 qualifiers against one of the big guns will be on September 9 when Germany come to Windsor then a visit to Holland on October 10.

The campaign ends with a double-header at home to Holland on November 16 and away to Germany three days later.

Belfast Telegraph

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