Wednesday 28 September 2016

Michael O'Neill to seek Scotland and Republic tips on Germany and Poland

Published 13/12/2015 | 11:11

Michael O'Neill's Northern Ireland were pitted in a group with Germany, Poland and Ukraine
Michael O'Neill's Northern Ireland were pitted in a group with Germany, Poland and Ukraine

Michael O'Neill will seek help from his Scotland and Republic of Ireland counterparts ahead of Northern Ireland's European Championship debut in France next summer.

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O'Neill's side were placed in the same group as world champions Germany, Poland and Ukraine at the draw in Paris on Saturday.

Both the Republic of Ireland and Scotland played Germany and Poland in qualifying for the tournament, and O'Neill revealed he has already spoken to Republic assistant boss Roy Keane.

Republic manager Martin O'Neill and Scotland boss Gordon Strachan can also expect a call, with Michael O'Neill telling BBC Radio Live's Sportsweek programme: " I'll certainly speak to both Martin and Gordon.

"I've actually just had a quick chat with Roy Keane at breakfast and he was offering any help they can give us.

"We know a fair bit about Poland anyway and we obviously know the threat of (Robert) Lewandowski. The Ukrainians are a bit more unknown to us but I think one of the real strong points of our preparation has always been our level of detail on the opposition."

Northern Ireland will become very familiar with Germany having also been drawn against Joachim Low's side in qualification for the 2018 World Cup.

O'Neill accepts they will have to upset the odds to make an impact in France, but they have already done so by topping their qualifying group.

The Northern Ireland boss said: "They (Germany) were maybe the pot one team that I didn't want but, having been drawn in it and got my head around it, I think it's a fantastic game for us.

"To get the opportunity to play the world champions in Paris in a major tournament is going to be a great occasion. And hopefully when we get to that stage, which is our third game, we'll have a real prize at the end of that game.

"On paper there's perhaps easier groups but I also think when you get the world champions in your group, everyone will expect them to top the group, so in many ways it turns it into a mini group of three with ourselves, Ukraine and Poland.

"I certainly believe we can be competitive in that company. I think we proved that in qualification and we have to believe we can get out of the group."

Press Association

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