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McCann eyeing victory

Grant McCann wants Northern Ireland to put their poor form in friendlies behind them when Norway visit Windsor Park on Wednesday.

The match represents Michael O'Neill's first in charge of the national side since taking over from Nigel Worthington and Peterborough midfielder McCann hopes it can herald a new era. Under Worthington, Northern Ireland endured a torrid run of results in non-competitive matches, when the side was routinely hit by significant withdrawals.

O'Neill has already had a taste of that, with Kyle Lafferty and Chris Brunt suffering from long-standing injuries, while Craig Cathcart and Warren Feeney were ruled out on Monday morning. McCann said: "I would say a good result is the main thing."

He added: "If we can do it with a good performance then so be it, we'd like that, but we'll take it however we can. Our record in friendlies has been pretty terrible to be honest and we're hoping to put the record straight.

"People say friendlies don't mean anything, but a bad result can stick in your mind a bit. If we can do well on Wednesday that can be a real help. To be fair to our fans they haven't had much too to cheer about recently and we've lost our last four matches in a row, so we need to make sure we get the atmosphere back."

McCann was a regular under Worthington and, while the core of the squad that failed to qualify for Euro 2012 has been retained, he has been joined in Belfast by the likes of Dean Shiels, Shane Ferguson and Michael Duff - restored to the squad after lengthy periods out.

McCann is pleased to have them involved and admits everyone is playing for a place in the side under the new regime.

"It's good to have everyone here and available for selection," he said. "It's good to see my old mate Duffer back, he was a bit surprised himself I think, and the same for Dean and Shane Ferguson, who has been playing well at Newcastle.

"The more players we have available the better. Everyone is just trying to impress the manager to be honest, it's a little bit different and everyone just wants to do as much as they can to get in the team.

"We've had a little bit of time on free-kicks today so I'm hoping to have caught his eye. He's a really positive manager and (assistant boss) Billy McKinlay is a really good coach too, so we're excited."


From Belfast Telegraph