Wednesday 21 February 2018

Carroll wants lessons to be learned

Roy Carroll returned to the Northern Ireland side at the start of World Cup qualifying after a six-year absence
Roy Carroll returned to the Northern Ireland side at the start of World Cup qualifying after a six-year absence

Goalkeeper Roy Carroll has called for Northern Ireland to start learning from their setbacks after yet another dispiriting result at Windsor Park.

The hosts went down 2-0 against Israel on Tuesday night, leaving them with just three points from five World Cup qualifiers following frustrating home draws against Luxembourg and Azerbaijan.

There is a growing sense of deja vu around Michael O'Neill's side, who arguably did enough to win all three of those matches but paid on each occasion for a lack of firepower up front. The familiarity of the tale was not lost on Carroll, the veteran keeper who returned to the side at the start of qualifying after a six-year absence.

"It is a campaign of harsh lessons," he admitted. "We have been talking in the changing room about it and we know we just have to pick ourselves up and learn to finish teams off.

"We have to be more hungry than the opposition and although we were against Israel we just threw it away with two silly goals. No one goes out there to do that but we have to work hard to stop it.

"When we did create a clearcut chance their keeper made a great save but we need to take chances. None of us like losing; not the players, supporters or management staff and we don't like drawing games with Luxembourg and Azerbaijan either so we have to start winning games sooner rather than later."

O'Neill has not tasted victory in nine matches since replacing Nigel Worthington and there was a refreshing honesty from the former Shamrock Rovers after Tuesday's defeat.

Invited to take solace from his side's positive performance, he declined and highlighted the need for a first success at any cost. Carroll is also in no mood for excuses.

"We say we've no luck all the time, but quality teams finish you off and we have to learn to take our chances," said the Olympiacos player. "What goes around comes around and hopefully we will be able to get ourselves out of the slump we are in.

"We have to finish these games off when we're on top but it's difficult. We played well for 80 minutes then lost concentration and conceded two late goals."

Press Association

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