FIFA seeding shake-up is boost for Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland are hoping to benefit from yesterday's decision by FIFA to overhaul their controversial seeding system.
The new formula, which aims to eliminate "the potential for ranking manipulation", will reward teams for playing more games.
The current system lets teams boost their status by avoiding friendly matches but now sides will gain or lose points from their existing total with each result and more weight will be given to competitive games over friendlies.
Michael O'Neill's men should benefit from the new system because positive results will see them climb the rankings table while countries will no longer be able to do that by playing fewer friendly fixtures.
And improved rankings will give Northern Ireland a better seeding when it comes to major tournament qualification.
Meanwhile, fresh doubt has been cast on FIFA's hopes to introduce a 48-team World Cup in 2022 after it was taken off the agenda at its annual congress on Wednesday.