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Baraclough believes the North have fear factor


Northern Ireland manager Ian Baraclough

Northern Ireland manager Ian Baraclough

Northern Ireland manager Ian Baraclough

Northern Ireland manager Ian Baraclough admitted his side suffered from a "fear factor" in Sunday's 1-0 home defeat to Austria.

The Green and White Army could not follow up Thursday's penalty shoot-out win over Bosnia and Herzegovina in the Euro 2020 qualifying play-off semi-final as their Nations League woes continued at Windsor Park.

Michael Gregoritsch's first-half header proved the difference, though in truth it could have been many more as Austria repeatedly carved open Northern Ireland in the first half before things improved for the hosts after the break.

Baraclough made five changes - bringing in goalkeeper Michael McGovern alongside Kyle Lafferty, Gavin Whyte, Conor McLaughlin, and Jordan Jones - to freshen things up, but it was ultimately a flat performance and the manager was left urging his players to take more risks.

"Whoever comes in has to be aware, they're not going to get a hard time from me if they lose possession in trying to do the right thing," he said.

"We want players to go out with no fear to make a mistake. So what? Work hard and get back. There probably was a bit of a fear factor for some reason."

Defeat means Northern Ireland have now lost six of their seven games in the still relatively short history of the Nations League - and three of those have been against Austria.

Baraclough is also still awaiting his first win at Windsor Park.

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