Northern Ireland must be more aggressive

Jonny Evans was among Northern Ireland's better performers against Poland on Sunday

Jonny Evans was among Northern Ireland’s best players against Poland on Sunday

Jonny Evans believes Northern Ireland must adopt a more positive approach against Ukraine on Thursday if they are to avoid an early exit from Euro 2016.

Michael O’Neill’s men lost their opening game 1-0 to Poland on Sunday.

“We have identified what went wrong, we are not disheartened,” said the 28-year-old West Brom defender.

“We have to be more aggressive,” added Evans, who said the squad wanted to pay respects to the Northern Ireland fan who died in an accidental fall in Nice.

It is understood Northern Ireland have asked Uefa for permission to wear black armbands and hold a minute’s tribute to 24-year-old Darren Rodgers, from Ballymena.

Sad news

“For us as players, Sunday’s match was one of the greatest experiences we have had as footballers, and to wake up the next day and hear the news was terribly sad,” said former Manchester United centre-back Evans.

“We have put a request into Uefa because we would like to pay our own respects in some way.”

Evans, who played a leading role in a creditable defensive display against Poland, stressed the players’ belief that they are still very much in contention in Group C.

“We have watched the Poland match on video and know there are things we can improve on,” he said.

“Maybe we did not do things the way we have done in the past.

“We want to get back to the things we are good at, like closing people down, stamping our authority on the match and not letting it pass us by.”

Point may not be the end

Evans says the tournament’s format means they still had a chance of qualifying for the knockout stages even if they only draw on Thursday.

Asked if the Ukraine match was a ‘must win’, Evans said: “Well, we could still beat Germany and draw this game.

“We need to get a result, but a win on Thursday would give us a great belief going into the last match.

“Facing Germany in Paris with something to play for – it doesn’t get much better than that.”

Manager O’Neill has refused to be drawn on whether he will field another striker to support Kyle Lafferty against Ukraine.

If he does, Conor Washington or Jamie Ward could come into the starting line-up in Lyon.

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