O’Neill content with N Ireland display

Kyle Lafferty and Craig Cathcart

Kyle Lafferty congratulates Northern Ireland goalscorer Craig Cathcart

Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill says his side “got everything they needed” out of their 1-1 friendly draw with Wales in Cardiff on Thursday.

Simon Church’s late penalty for Wales cancelled out a Craig Cathcart opener.

It means Northern Ireland have not won any of 18 away friendlies since August 2006, scoring twice in that sequence.

“It would have been nice to win but we were able to give 17 players some game time and experiment with a couple of different systems,” O’Neill said.

“Kyle Lafferty got a good 80 minutes under his belt and did well given that he hasn’t been playing regularly.”

On Thursday, Lafferty joined Birmingham for the rest of the season on loan from Norwich, where he has played less than an hour’s first-team football this season.

“His loan spell at Birmingham will help him build up his match fitness,” O’Neill added.

“It was very important for the player as he has had very limited game time and he was up against top-class Premier League centre-backs. We’ll have another look at him on Monday night.”


Media playback is not supported on this device

Highlights: Wales 1-1 N Ireland

O’Neill began the game with Watford’s Craig Cathcart alongside West Brom pair Gareth McAuley and Jonny Evans in a back three, before reverting to a more traditional four-man defensive formation in the second half.

“We have very limited opportunities to look at systems but the players adapted to both well,” he said.

Queens Park Rangers striker Conor Washington, making his Northern Ireland debut, struggled to impress and was replaced at half-time.

“Conor Washington was slightly disappointed but he trained well and will be given as much of a chance as everyone else to stake his claim,” O’Neill said.

“Josh Magennis and Liam Boyce were carrying slight knocks but they will come into contention to play a part against Slovenia on Monday and we will give as many players as possible some game time.”

The result extended Northern Ireland’s unbeaten run to nine matches.

comments powered by Disqus