Belfast Telegraph

It’s still all to play for, insists Northern Ireland star Oliver Norwood

 

By Paul Ferguson

Midfielder Ollie Norwood says the current mindset of the Northern Ireland players is that they are 1-0 down at half-time and need a big second period performance to overcome Switzerland.

The Swiss hold the advantage having scored what could be a crucial away goal at Windsor Park on Thursday night, but Fulham ace Norwood insists Northern Ireland will be fuelled by the fact they are still just 90 minutes away from the World Cup finals in Russia.

Michael O’Neill’s team need to come out in Basel tomorrow and be a major attacking force and Norwood believes Northern Ireland have the players capable of turning this tie around.

The Burnley-born star said: “We have nothing to lose and it’s still all to play for. It’s half-time in the tie and we’re 1-0 down. We go away from home now and we’ll give it a right good go in Basel.

“We’ve got to pick ourselves up, regroup and go again.”

Northern Ireland, especially in the first half against the Swiss, were on the backfoot, soaking up a lot of pressure and Norwood believes credit must go to Vladimir Petkovic’s side.

The 26-year-old said: “We knew they were a very good team and we tried to get after them early but they kept the ball well and didn’t give us a chance to do that.

“Maybe our set-piece execution wasn’t as good as it’s been throughout the campaign. That is something we will be looking to improve on in Basel.”

Norwood will be without his midfield partner Corry Evans tomorrow after the Blackburn ace was shown a yellow card, his second of the campaign, for a ‘handball’ inside the penalty box following a Xherdan Shaqiri shot.

Replays proved the decision, which led to Switzerland’s only goal, was a grave injustice as it clearly hit Evans’ back. But Norwood refused to join in the blame game on referee Ovidiu Hategan.

He continued: “I don’t really want to talk about it. It’s frustrating, but we’re still in the tie and we can’t let that affect us too much.

“It’s disappointing, but we’ll regroup and as always we’ll come back and give it a right good go.

“I didn’t think it was a penalty, I don’t think anybody appealed.

“It is what it is and we don’t want to get into trouble for making comments.

“We’ll let you lot (the media) do that and write stories about it.

“As players it’s up to us to just deal with it and as I say, go again on Sunday.”

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