5 talking points ahead of Northern Ireland’s friendly with Israel

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Northern Ireland will look to bounce back from their frustrating Nations League opener against Bosnia and Herzegovina when they face Israel in a friendly on Tuesday night.

Here Press Association Sport takes a look at five talking points ahead of the game.


The Nations League was intended to cut down the number of meaningless friendlies by replacing them with competitive fixtures, but in this case it has also put added emphasis on one of the friendlies that remains. Saturday’s 2-1 home defeat to Bosnia was undoubtedly a setback for Michael O’Neill’s side, and leaves them with only one win from their last eight games. It hardly feels like a crisis but given the progress made during O’Neill’s tenure, everyone will be desperate to get a win on the board before tough trips to Austria and Bosnia in October in the next stage of the Nations League.


O’Neill was blessed with a choice of in-form strikers when selecting his squad, with Kyle Lafferty, Will Grigg, Liam Boyce and Josh Magennis having hit the ground running at club level. But that did not prevent Northern Ireland’s struggles in front of goal continuing on Saturday when 26 total attempts were rewarded only with Grigg’s stoppage-time strike. Bosnia defended deeply and denied Northern Ireland clear sights of goal, and Northern Ireland must take their time in crafting more clear-cut opportunities against Israel.


Corry Evans
Corry Evans could come into contention against Israel (Niall Carson/PA)


O’Neill will freshen up his team where possible but it will be interesting to see what he does when it comes to selecting his goalkeeper. Bailey Peacock-Farrell made his first competitive start on Saturday but it did not go to plan as Bosnia’s decisive second goal came from a horrible mix-up involving the Leeds goalkeeper and Watford defender Craig Cathcart, with the experienced Cathcart taking full responsibility. O’Neill may still fancy giving one of his other goalkeepers some game time on Tuesday, and has insisted any decision will be made for that reason alone, and not based on performance.


Windsor Park
Protests are planned near Windsor Park (Brian Lawless/PA)

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