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Northern Ireland can still qualify for Women's Euros, insists returning Kirsty McGuinness


Kirsty McGuinness is back in training with Northern Ireland.

Kirsty McGuinness is back in training with Northern Ireland.

Kirsty McGuinness is back in training with Northern Ireland.

Kirsty McGuinness is back in the Northern Ireland women's international squad, with her sights set on a big summer in England in two years' time.

First on the agenda, though, is a trip to the Faroe Islands next month as Northern Ireland aim for a Euro 2022 Play-Off berth after the Finals were delayed by 12 months.

Linfield Ladies star McGuinness, who scored 32 goals as she led the Blues to the Danske Bank Women's Premiership last season, hasn't yet figured for Northern Ireland under Kenny Shiels' management, but she has now rejoined the squad as they build towards four crunch European Championship qualifiers in the autumn.

"I've been back in since just before lockdown started and we've been back training a few weeks now," says Kirsty.

"It's going well and I'm really enjoying it.

"I'm hungry to be in the squad that goes to the Faroe Islands and it's good that our League is starting a few weeks before that because there is nothing like match fitness to get you ready.

"Hopefully we can go there and get a good result."

McGuinness has been impressed as she's watched from the outside.

Shiels had got the squad in a good place with positive performances despite losing to Iceland, Ukraine and Scotland at the Pinatar Cup in Spain back in March.

That momentum has been lost after the qualifiers in April and June were wiped out due to coronavirus, and now that restrictions have eased, the locally-based players have upped their training schedule ahead of the resumption next month, with a trip to Belarus to follow in October before both them and the Faroes come to Belfast for a closing double-header.

"They did really well in Spain and you can see how far they have come along," adds Kirsty.

"Everybody is firing in training and it's good to see.

"It would be great to get to the Play-Offs and then to the Finals in England. That's the plan. We need to go to the Faroes and get a good result to set us up for the rest of the games."

Belfast Telegraph