Belfast Telegraph

We won't be fazed by the size of the challenge ahead, insists upbeat McGovern

By Steven Beacom

Michael McGovern is ready and waiting for whoever comes out of the hat for Northern Ireland in the World Cup play-off draw.

The Norwich City goalkeeper, who kept seven clean sheets out of 10 games in the qualifying group stages, believes Northern Ireland's recent record means they will have nothing to fear even if they draw a nation like Italy, who have such a rich history in the competition.

"We've shown over the last two to three years that we're a good team," explained the Fermanagh man.

"Whoever we get in the play-offs, it's going to be a difficult game, we know that, but with us being at Windsor Park in one of the legs we know we can beat anybody and we've shown that we can go away from home and get results.

"So there's nothing really to fear and we're looking forward to the challenge.

"At the end of the day we're in the play-offs, that's the most important thing.

"We set out to be in the play-offs at the start of the campaign - we were never going to win the group with Germany in it - so we've done that now and that's a big positive."

McGovern was disappointed to concede a rare goal in the 1-0 defeat to Norway in Oslo on Saturday. He couldn't quite clear a cross leading to Chris Brunt smashing the ball into his own net.

The former Hamilton Accies number one explained: "Their guy has sort of dinked it to the back post.

"It was a very good ball and I've worked my feet to try and get there and got a slight touch on it which made it really difficult for Chris (Brunt). It was just one of those things.

"I thought we did all right, defensively we were quite solid."

• PADDY McNair scored on his return to action in a Sunderland Under-23 match last night.

McNair had been out since last November after rupturing his cruciate ligament, but the midfielder found the net in a 2-0 friendly win over Hertha Berlin.

McNair tweeted: "After a long and frustrating 10 months out it feels great to be back out on the pitch and on the scoresheet."

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