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Northern Ireland v New Zealand: Michael O'Neill relishing difficult test

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Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland 2nd  June  2017 - Picture by Stephen Hamilton / Press Eye.
Friendly International match between Northern Ireland and New Zealand at the National Stadium in Belfast.

Northern Irelands Tom Flanagan in action with New Zealands Chris Wood

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland 2nd June 2017 - Picture by Stephen Hamilton / Press Eye. Friendly International match between Northern Ireland and New Zealand at the National Stadium in Belfast. Northern Irelands Tom Flanagan in action with New Zealands Chris Wood

PACEMAKER BELFAST  02/06/2017
Northern Ireland v New Zealand Friendly International
Northern Ireland's   Shane Ferguson and New Zealand's Ryan Thomas during this evenings game at the National Stadium Windsor Park.
Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press

PACEMAKER BELFAST 02/06/2017 Northern Ireland v New Zealand Friendly International Northern Ireland's Shane Ferguson and New Zealand's Ryan Thomas during this evenings game at the National Stadium Windsor Park. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press

PACEMAKER BELFAST  02/06/2017
Northern Ireland v New Zealand Friendly International
Northern Ireland's Jonny Evans  and New Zealand's Ryan Thomas during this evenings game at the National Stadium Windsor Park.
Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press

PACEMAKER BELFAST 02/06/2017 Northern Ireland v New Zealand Friendly International Northern Ireland's Jonny Evans and New Zealand's Ryan Thomas during this evenings game at the National Stadium Windsor Park. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press

PressEye-Northern Ireland- 2nd June 2017-Picture by Brian Little/PressEye

Northern Ireland. Josh Magennis   and   New Zealand  Tommy Smith during Friday night's Vauxhall  International at  the National Football Stadium, Windsor Park ,Belfast.
Picture by Brian Little/PressEye

PressEye-Northern Ireland- 2nd June 2017-Picture by Brian Little/PressEye Northern Ireland. Josh Magennis and New Zealand Tommy Smith during Friday night's Vauxhall International at the National Football Stadium, Windsor Park ,Belfast. Picture by Brian Little/PressEye

PressEye-Northern Ireland- 2nd June 2017-Picture by Brian Little/PressEye

Northern Ireland.  Fans watching the match against   New Zealand  during Friday night's Vauxhall  International at  the National Football Stadium, Windsor Park ,Belfast.
Picture by Brian Little/PressEye

PressEye-Northern Ireland- 2nd June 2017-Picture by Brian Little/PressEye Northern Ireland. Fans watching the match against New Zealand during Friday night's Vauxhall International at the National Football Stadium, Windsor Park ,Belfast. Picture by Brian Little/PressEye

PressEye-Northern Ireland- 2nd June 2017-Picture by Brian Little/PressEye

Northern Ireland. Kyle Lafferty shot against New Zealand  during Friday night's Vauxhall  International at  the National Football Stadium, Windsor Park ,Belfast.
Picture by Brian Little/PressEye

PressEye-Northern Ireland- 2nd June 2017-Picture by Brian Little/PressEye Northern Ireland. Kyle Lafferty shot against New Zealand during Friday night's Vauxhall International at the National Football Stadium, Windsor Park ,Belfast. Picture by Brian Little/PressEye

PACEMAKER BELFAST  02/06/2017
Northern Ireland v New Zealand Friendly International
Northern IrelandÕs Kyle Lafferty  and New ZealandÕs Andrew Durante during this evenings game at the National Stadium Windsor Park.
Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press

PACEMAKER BELFAST 02/06/2017 Northern Ireland v New Zealand Friendly International Northern IrelandÕs Kyle Lafferty and New ZealandÕs Andrew Durante during this evenings game at the National Stadium Windsor Park. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press

PressEye-Northern Ireland- 2nd June 2017-Picture by Brian Little/PressEye

New Zealand  goal keeper Stefan Marinovic defends a a Northern Ireland cross  during Friday night's Vauxhall  International at  the National Football Stadium, Windsor Park ,Belfast.
Picture by Brian Little/PressEye

PressEye-Northern Ireland- 2nd June 2017-Picture by Brian Little/PressEye New Zealand goal keeper Stefan Marinovic defends a a Northern Ireland cross during Friday night's Vauxhall International at the National Football Stadium, Windsor Park ,Belfast. Picture by Brian Little/PressEye

Press Eye - Belfast -  Northern Ireland - 02nd June 2017 - Photo by William Cherry

Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty during Friday nights Vauxhall International Challenge Match at the National Stadium, Belfast.  Photo by William Cherry/Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 02nd June 2017 - Photo by William Cherry Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty during Friday nights Vauxhall International Challenge Match at the National Stadium, Belfast. Photo by William Cherry/Presseye

©William Cherry / Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast -  Northern Ireland - 02nd June 2017 - Photo by William Cherry

Northern Ireland's Stuart Dallas with New Zealand's Michael Boxall during Friday nights Vauxhall International Challenge Match at the National Stadium, Belfast.  Photo by William Cherry/Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 02nd June 2017 - Photo by William Cherry Northern Ireland's Stuart Dallas with New Zealand's Michael Boxall during Friday nights Vauxhall International Challenge Match at the National Stadium, Belfast. Photo by William Cherry/Presseye

©William Cherry / Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast -  Northern Ireland - 02nd June 2017 - Photo by William Cherry

Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty with New Zealand's Stefan Marinovic during Friday nights Vauxhall International Challenge Match at the National Stadium, Belfast.  Photo by William Cherry/Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 02nd June 2017 - Photo by William Cherry Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty with New Zealand's Stefan Marinovic during Friday nights Vauxhall International Challenge Match at the National Stadium, Belfast. Photo by William Cherry/Presseye

©William Cherry / Presseye

Northern Ireland's Liam Boyce celebrates scoring with team mate Conor McLaughlin  during the international friendly match at Windsor Park, Belfast. Liam McBurney/PA Wire.

Northern Ireland's Liam Boyce celebrates scoring with team mate Conor McLaughlin during the international friendly match at Windsor Park, Belfast. Liam McBurney/PA Wire.

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Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland 2nd  June  2017 - Picture by Stephen Hamilton / Press Eye.
Friendly International match between Northern Ireland and New Zealand at the National Stadium in Belfast.

Northern Irelands Josh Magennis in action with New Zealands Michael Boxall

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland 2nd June 2017 - Picture by Stephen Hamilton / Press Eye. Friendly International match between Northern Ireland and New Zealand at the National Stadium in Belfast. Northern Irelands Josh Magennis in action with New Zealands Michael Boxall

©Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 2nd June 2017 
Vauxhall International Challenge Match Northern Ireland v New Zealand at Windsor Park
Northern Ireland's Liam Boyce scores a goal against New Zealand
Picture by Andrew Paton/Press Eye

©Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 2nd June 2017 Vauxhall International Challenge Match Northern Ireland v New Zealand at Windsor Park Northern Ireland's Liam Boyce scores a goal against New Zealand Picture by Andrew Paton/Press Eye

Press Eye - Belfast -  Northern Ireland - 02nd June 2017 - Photo by William Cherry

Northern Ireland's Liam Boyce celebrates scoring against New Zealand during Friday nights Vauxhall International Challenge Match at the National Stadium, Belfast.  Photo by William Cherry/Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 02nd June 2017 - Photo by William Cherry Northern Ireland's Liam Boyce celebrates scoring against New Zealand during Friday nights Vauxhall International Challenge Match at the National Stadium, Belfast. Photo by William Cherry/Presseye

©William Cherry / Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland 2nd  June  2017 - Picture by Stephen Hamilton / Press Eye.
Friendly International match between Northern Ireland and New Zealand at the National Stadium in Belfast.

Northern Irelands Josh Magennis in action with New Zealands Michael Boxall

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland 2nd June 2017 - Picture by Stephen Hamilton / Press Eye. Friendly International match between Northern Ireland and New Zealand at the National Stadium in Belfast. Northern Irelands Josh Magennis in action with New Zealands Michael Boxall

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland 2nd  June  2017 - Picture by Stephen Hamilton / Press Eye.
Friendly International match between Northern Ireland and New Zealand at the National Stadium in Belfast.

Northern Irelands Johnny Evans in action with New Zealands Chris Wood

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland 2nd June 2017 - Picture by Stephen Hamilton / Press Eye. Friendly International match between Northern Ireland and New Zealand at the National Stadium in Belfast. Northern Irelands Johnny Evans in action with New Zealands Chris Wood

Press Eye - Belfast -  Northern Ireland - 02nd June 2017 - Photo by William Cherry

Northern Ireland's Liam Boyce celebrates scoring against New Zealand during Friday nights Vauxhall International Challenge Match at the National Stadium, Belfast.  Photo by William Cherry/Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 02nd June 2017 - Photo by William Cherry Northern Ireland's Liam Boyce celebrates scoring against New Zealand during Friday nights Vauxhall International Challenge Match at the National Stadium, Belfast. Photo by William Cherry/Presseye

©William Cherry / Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast -  Northern Ireland - 02nd June 2017 - Photo by William Cherry

Northern Ireland's Liam Boyce celebrates scoring against New Zealand during Friday nights Vauxhall International Challenge Match at the National Stadium, Belfast.  Photo by William Cherry/Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 02nd June 2017 - Photo by William Cherry Northern Ireland's Liam Boyce celebrates scoring against New Zealand during Friday nights Vauxhall International Challenge Match at the National Stadium, Belfast. Photo by William Cherry/Presseye

©William Cherry / Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast -  Northern Ireland - 02nd June 2017 - Photo by William Cherry

Northern Ireland's Liam Boyce celebrates scoring against New Zealand during Friday nights Vauxhall International Challenge Match at the National Stadium, Belfast.  Photo by William Cherry/Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 02nd June 2017 - Photo by William Cherry Northern Ireland's Liam Boyce celebrates scoring against New Zealand during Friday nights Vauxhall International Challenge Match at the National Stadium, Belfast. Photo by William Cherry/Presseye

©William Cherry / Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast -  Northern Ireland - 02nd June 2017 - Photo by William Cherry

Northern Ireland's Liam Boyce scoring against New Zealand during Friday nights Vauxhall International Challenge Match at the National Stadium, Belfast.  Photo by William Cherry/Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 02nd June 2017 - Photo by William Cherry Northern Ireland's Liam Boyce scoring against New Zealand during Friday nights Vauxhall International Challenge Match at the National Stadium, Belfast. Photo by William Cherry/Presseye

©William Cherry / Presseye

Liam Boyce could be set for a move to the English Championship.

Liam Boyce could be set for a move to the English Championship.

©William Cherry / Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast -  Northern Ireland - 02nd June 2017 - Photo by William Cherry

Northern Ireland's Liam Boyce scoring against New Zealand during Friday nights Vauxhall International Challenge Match at the National Stadium, Belfast.  Photo by William Cherry/Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 02nd June 2017 - Photo by William Cherry Northern Ireland's Liam Boyce scoring against New Zealand during Friday nights Vauxhall International Challenge Match at the National Stadium, Belfast. Photo by William Cherry/Presseye

©William Cherry / Presseye

Northern Ireland fan Matthew Andrews (12) from Lisburn with his cousin Galbraith (10) before the international friendly match between Northern Ireland against New Zealand at Windsor Park, Belfast. Liam McBurney/PA Wire.

Northern Ireland fan Matthew Andrews (12) from Lisburn with his cousin Galbraith (10) before the international friendly match between Northern Ireland against New Zealand at Windsor Park, Belfast. Liam McBurney/PA Wire.

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BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - JUNE 02: Steve Davis of Northern Ireland is seen prior to the international friendly football match between Northern Ireland and New Zealand at Windsor Park on June 2, 2017 in Belfast, United Kingdom. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)

BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - JUNE 02: Steve Davis of Northern Ireland is seen prior to the international friendly football match between Northern Ireland and New Zealand at Windsor Park on June 2, 2017 in Belfast, United Kingdom. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)

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Northern Ireland fan Matthew Cromie (7) with his dad Gareth Cromie, mum Donna Cromie and stepsister Holly Kane before the international friendly match between Northern Ireland against New Zealand at Windsor Park, Belfast. Liam McBurney/PA Wire.

Northern Ireland fan Matthew Cromie (7) with his dad Gareth Cromie, mum Donna Cromie and stepsister Holly Kane before the international friendly match between Northern Ireland against New Zealand at Windsor Park, Belfast. Liam McBurney/PA Wire.

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A lady has her backpack checked by a member of security before the international friendly match between Northern Ireland against New Zealand at Windsor Park, Belfast.  Liam McBurney/PA Wire.

A lady has her backpack checked by a member of security before the international friendly match between Northern Ireland against New Zealand at Windsor Park, Belfast. Liam McBurney/PA Wire.

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Northern Ireland fans Mildred Singh with her grandchildren Theo and Indi Thompson and mum Alexis Thompson before the international friendly match between Northern Ireland against New Zealand at Windsor Park, Belfast.  Liam McBurney/PA Wire.

Northern Ireland fans Mildred Singh with her grandchildren Theo and Indi Thompson and mum Alexis Thompson before the international friendly match between Northern Ireland against New Zealand at Windsor Park, Belfast. Liam McBurney/PA Wire.

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Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland 2nd  June  2017 - Picture by Stephen Hamilton / Press Eye.
Friendly International match between Northern Ireland and New Zealand at the National Stadium in Belfast.

Northern Ireland fans pictured ahead of tonights game

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland 2nd June 2017 - Picture by Stephen Hamilton / Press Eye. Friendly International match between Northern Ireland and New Zealand at the National Stadium in Belfast. Northern Ireland fans pictured ahead of tonights game

PressEye-Northern Ireland- 2nd June 2017-Picture by Brian Little/PressEye

Robert McLaughlin, Lottie Long and David Pue  from Kilkeel  supporting Northern Ireland against   New Zealand  during Friday night's Vauxhall  International at  the National Football Stadium, Windsor Park ,Belfast.
Picture by Brian Little/PressEye

PressEye-Northern Ireland- 2nd June 2017-Picture by Brian Little/PressEye Robert McLaughlin, Lottie Long and David Pue from Kilkeel supporting Northern Ireland against New Zealand during Friday night's Vauxhall International at the National Football Stadium, Windsor Park ,Belfast. Picture by Brian Little/PressEye

PressEye-Northern Ireland- 2nd June 2017-Picture by Brian Little/PressEye

Simon,Frank and Benjamin Lee (7~) from Carryduff   supporting Northern Ireland against  New Zealand  during Friday night's Vauxhall  International at  the National Football Stadium, Windsor Park ,Belfast.
Picture by Brian Little/PressEye

PressEye-Northern Ireland- 2nd June 2017-Picture by Brian Little/PressEye Simon,Frank and Benjamin Lee (7~) from Carryduff supporting Northern Ireland against New Zealand during Friday night's Vauxhall International at the National Football Stadium, Windsor Park ,Belfast. Picture by Brian Little/PressEye

PressEye-Northern Ireland- 2nd June 2017-Picture by Brian Little/PressEye

Northern Ireland against   New Zealand  during Friday night's Vauxhall  International at  the National Football Stadium, Windsor Park ,Belfast.
Picture by Brian Little/PressEye

PressEye-Northern Ireland- 2nd June 2017-Picture by Brian Little/PressEye Northern Ireland against New Zealand during Friday night's Vauxhall International at the National Football Stadium, Windsor Park ,Belfast. Picture by Brian Little/PressEye

PressEye-Northern Ireland- 2nd June 2017-Picture by Brian Little/PressEye

Maggie Leckey and Sophie Kerr from Banbridge  supporting Northern Ireland against   New Zealand  during Friday night's Vauxhall  International at  the National Football Stadium, Windsor Park ,Belfast.
Picture by Brian Little/PressEye

PressEye-Northern Ireland- 2nd June 2017-Picture by Brian Little/PressEye Maggie Leckey and Sophie Kerr from Banbridge supporting Northern Ireland against New Zealand during Friday night's Vauxhall International at the National Football Stadium, Windsor Park ,Belfast. Picture by Brian Little/PressEye

PressEye-Northern Ireland- 2nd June 2017-Picture by Brian Little/PressEye

Peter, Adam (11) , Neil (13) and Jennifer Vance from Omagh   supporting Northern Ireland against  New Zealand  during Friday night's Vauxhall  International at  the National Football Stadium, Windsor Park ,Belfast.
Picture by Brian Little/PressEye

PressEye-Northern Ireland- 2nd June 2017-Picture by Brian Little/PressEye Peter, Adam (11) , Neil (13) and Jennifer Vance from Omagh supporting Northern Ireland against New Zealand during Friday night's Vauxhall International at the National Football Stadium, Windsor Park ,Belfast. Picture by Brian Little/PressEye

PressEye-Northern Ireland- 2nd June 2017-Picture by Brian Little/PressEye

James McGrath (7)  and Joshua Gray (7) from Bangor   supporting Northern Ireland against    New Zealand  during Friday night's Vauxhall  International at  the National Football Stadium, Windsor Park ,Belfast.
Picture by Brian Little/PressEye

PressEye-Northern Ireland- 2nd June 2017-Picture by Brian Little/PressEye James McGrath (7) and Joshua Gray (7) from Bangor supporting Northern Ireland against New Zealand during Friday night's Vauxhall International at the National Football Stadium, Windsor Park ,Belfast. Picture by Brian Little/PressEye

PressEye-Northern Ireland- 2nd June 2017-Picture by Brian Little/PressEye

Nathan (12)  and Keira (10)  Temple from Bangor   supporting Northern Ireland against    New Zealand  during Friday night's Vauxhall  International at  the National Football Stadium, Windsor Park ,Belfast.
Picture by Brian Little/PressEye

PressEye-Northern Ireland- 2nd June 2017-Picture by Brian Little/PressEye Nathan (12) and Keira (10) Temple from Bangor supporting Northern Ireland against New Zealand during Friday night's Vauxhall International at the National Football Stadium, Windsor Park ,Belfast. Picture by Brian Little/PressEye

PressEye-Northern Ireland- 2nd June 2017-Picture by Brian Little/PressEye

Nathan and Oscar Dodds (3) from Belfast   supporting Northern Ireland against    New Zealand  during Friday night's Vauxhall  International at  the National Football Stadium, Windsor Park ,Belfast.
Picture by Brian Little/PressEye

PressEye-Northern Ireland- 2nd June 2017-Picture by Brian Little/PressEye Nathan and Oscar Dodds (3) from Belfast supporting Northern Ireland against New Zealand during Friday night's Vauxhall International at the National Football Stadium, Windsor Park ,Belfast. Picture by Brian Little/PressEye

PressEye-Northern Ireland- 2nd June 2017-Picture by Brian Little/PressEye

Leslie and Daniel Burice from Newtownards  supporting Northern Ireland against  New Zealand  during Friday night's Vauxhall  International at  the National Football Stadium, Windsor Park ,Belfast.
Picture by Brian Little/PressEye

PressEye-Northern Ireland- 2nd June 2017-Picture by Brian Little/PressEye Leslie and Daniel Burice from Newtownards supporting Northern Ireland against New Zealand during Friday night's Vauxhall International at the National Football Stadium, Windsor Park ,Belfast. Picture by Brian Little/PressEye

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland 2nd  June  2017 - Picture by Stephen Hamilton / Press Eye.
Friendly International match between Northern Ireland and New Zealand at the National Stadium in Belfast.

Northern Ireland fans pictured ahead of tonights game

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland 2nd June 2017 - Picture by Stephen Hamilton / Press Eye. Friendly International match between Northern Ireland and New Zealand at the National Stadium in Belfast. Northern Ireland fans pictured ahead of tonights game

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland 2nd  June  2017 - Picture by Stephen Hamilton / Press Eye.
Friendly International match between Northern Ireland and New Zealand at the National Stadium in Belfast.

Northern Ireland fans pictured ahead of tonights game

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland 2nd June 2017 - Picture by Stephen Hamilton / Press Eye. Friendly International match between Northern Ireland and New Zealand at the National Stadium in Belfast. Northern Ireland fans pictured ahead of tonights game

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland 2nd  June  2017 - Picture by Stephen Hamilton / Press Eye.
Friendly International match between Northern Ireland and New Zealand at the National Stadium in Belfast.

Northern Ireland fans pictured ahead of tonights game

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland 2nd June 2017 - Picture by Stephen Hamilton / Press Eye. Friendly International match between Northern Ireland and New Zealand at the National Stadium in Belfast. Northern Ireland fans pictured ahead of tonights game

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland 2nd  June  2017 - Picture by Stephen Hamilton / Press Eye.
Friendly International match between Northern Ireland and New Zealand at the National Stadium in Belfast.

Northern Ireland fans pictured ahead of tonights game

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland 2nd June 2017 - Picture by Stephen Hamilton / Press Eye. Friendly International match between Northern Ireland and New Zealand at the National Stadium in Belfast. Northern Ireland fans pictured ahead of tonights game

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland 2nd  June  2017 - Picture by Stephen Hamilton / Press Eye.
Friendly International match between Northern Ireland and New Zealand at the National Stadium in Belfast.

Northern Ireland fans pictured ahead of tonights game

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland 2nd June 2017 - Picture by Stephen Hamilton / Press Eye. Friendly International match between Northern Ireland and New Zealand at the National Stadium in Belfast. Northern Ireland fans pictured ahead of tonights game

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland 2nd  June  2017 - Picture by Stephen Hamilton / Press Eye.
Friendly International match between Northern Ireland and New Zealand at the National Stadium in Belfast.

Northern Ireland fans pictured ahead of tonights game

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland 2nd June 2017 - Picture by Stephen Hamilton / Press Eye. Friendly International match between Northern Ireland and New Zealand at the National Stadium in Belfast. Northern Ireland fans pictured ahead of tonights game

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland 2nd  June  2017 - Picture by Stephen Hamilton / Press Eye.
Friendly International match between Northern Ireland and New Zealand at the National Stadium in Belfast.

Northern Ireland fans pictured ahead of tonights game

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland 2nd June 2017 - Picture by Stephen Hamilton / Press Eye. Friendly International match between Northern Ireland and New Zealand at the National Stadium in Belfast. Northern Ireland fans pictured ahead of tonights game

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland 2nd  June  2017 - Picture by Stephen Hamilton / Press Eye.
Friendly International match between Northern Ireland and New Zealand at the National Stadium in Belfast.

Northern Ireland fans pictured ahead of tonights game

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland 2nd June 2017 - Picture by Stephen Hamilton / Press Eye. Friendly International match between Northern Ireland and New Zealand at the National Stadium in Belfast. Northern Ireland fans pictured ahead of tonights game

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland 2nd  June  2017 - Picture by Stephen Hamilton / Press Eye.
Friendly International match between Northern Ireland and New Zealand at the National Stadium in Belfast.

Northern Ireland fans pictured ahead of tonights game

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland 2nd June 2017 - Picture by Stephen Hamilton / Press Eye. Friendly International match between Northern Ireland and New Zealand at the National Stadium in Belfast. Northern Ireland fans pictured ahead of tonights game

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland 2nd  June  2017 - Picture by Stephen Hamilton / Press Eye.
Friendly International match between Northern Ireland and New Zealand at the National Stadium in Belfast.

Northern Ireland fans pictured ahead of tonights game

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland 2nd June 2017 - Picture by Stephen Hamilton / Press Eye. Friendly International match between Northern Ireland and New Zealand at the National Stadium in Belfast. Northern Ireland fans pictured ahead of tonights game

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland 2nd  June  2017 - Picture by Stephen Hamilton / Press Eye.
Friendly International match between Northern Ireland and New Zealand at the National Stadium in Belfast.

Northern Ireland fans pictured ahead of tonights game

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland 2nd June 2017 - Picture by Stephen Hamilton / Press Eye. Friendly International match between Northern Ireland and New Zealand at the National Stadium in Belfast. Northern Ireland fans pictured ahead of tonights game

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland 2nd  June  2017 - Picture by Stephen Hamilton / Press Eye.
Friendly International match between Northern Ireland and New Zealand at the National Stadium in Belfast.

Northern Ireland fans pictured ahead of tonights game

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland 2nd June 2017 - Picture by Stephen Hamilton / Press Eye. Friendly International match between Northern Ireland and New Zealand at the National Stadium in Belfast. Northern Ireland fans pictured ahead of tonights game

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland 2nd June 2017 - Picture by Stephen Hamilton / Press Eye. Friendly International match between Northern Ireland and New Zealand at the National Stadium in Belfast. Northern Irelands Tom Flanagan in action with New Zealands Chris Wood

Michael O'Neill feels New Zealand will be tricky opponents for his World Cup finals hopefuls tonight.

The friendly will allow the Northern Ireland manager to assess fringe players aiming to secure regular places in his squad.

O'Neill's priority is next Saturday's World Cup qualifier in Azerbaijan, a match that could have a huge bearing on their bid to reach the 2018 finals.

"It's interesting watching the footage of them and it will be a good game for us, it will be an athletic game and that's what we want," said O'Neill. "Australia, New Zealand; they are physical and powerful players. That's the kind of test you want.

"We don't want a slow, ponderous game; we want players to get as much out of it as possible, and want the physical aspect to test them. They aren't bringing a team just to play a game This is part of their preparation and it's a big thing for them to be involved in the Confederations Cup. They won't be taking it lightly, their preparations are very important to them. That means it's going to be a good test.

"While they're a little bit unknown in terms of where they play their club football, they have some very good players in there. I'm glad we took the game. It will be a good test."

O'Neill will take his team to Turkey to acclimatise next week and is not fretting over his players adapting, though the draw was certainly not kind to Northern Ireland when it threw up a fixture in baking Baku at the end of the season.

"This is the worst game we could have logistically at this time of the year," O'Neill admitted. "If it's a home game, great, the players are happy, they're back in Belfast, they're relaxed and looking forward to the game.

"The only thing that works in our favour is that it's a single game. But that's the way the fixtures came out and we'll have to deal with it. I think we'll be fine. I'm not overly concerned about the conditions. I also see in the players already that their preparation and application is really good." Meanwhile, Northern Ireland international Adam Thompson has agreed a three-year deal with Bury.

Belfast Telegraph