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Robinson does not fear Belgium

Northern Ireland Under-21 coach Stephen Robinson has told his side not to fear Belgium even though they boast a player worth £20million.

Robinson's side host Belgium Under-21s in a Euro 2015 qualifier at Mourneview Park on Friday afternoon and the odds are heavily weighted in the visitors' favour.

Belgium are widely seen as one of European football's most improved nations due to a stock of star names in their senior side, but Robinson believes the same is true of their age group teams.

Midfielder Yannick Ferreira Carrasco is a regular for Ligue 1 leaders Monaco and scored in the team's win over St Etienne just before the international break.

His presence is reason enough for Northern Ireland to be wary, but having been beaten just 1-0 in Belgium last time out, Robinson sees some reason for optimism.

"Belgium have some terrific players, none better than Carrasco," he said.

"He is rated at £20million and I have no doubt he will go to the World Cup with them next summer. At the minute it suits them to have him in the Under-21 squad and he is the one who really makes them tick.

"I watched them in Italy just before we played them three weeks ago when they won 3-1 and to be honest it could have been 6-1.

"We lost 1-0 in Belgium but we more than competed with them. We hit the post, missed a few good chances, had more possession and had more shots on goal.

"That is all pleasing but you can't help feeling it was a missed opportunity. One thing is for sure, we will have nothing to fear against them."

Robinson has named a 21-man squad for the match, with full internationals Adam Thompson, Josh Carson and Jonny Gorman all present.

Kilmarnock full-back Rory McKeown is also present, having been with Michael O'Neill's senior side for the World Cup qualifier in Luxembourg last month.


From Belfast Telegraph