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Thursday 14 December 2017

Northern Ireland target first win of Euro 2017 Under-21 qualifying

Jim Magilton is confident Northern Ireland can claim their first qualifying win
Jim Magilton is confident Northern Ireland can claim their first qualifying win

Northern Ireland Under-21 boss Jim Magilton is aiming for a first win of the Euro 2017 qualifying campaign against Ukraine on Tuesday.

Magilton's side have taken only one point from their first four matches in Group 3 but all three defeats have been by a single goal.

Thursday saw them undone by a late goal having shut out a strong France side for 82 minutes.

The game at Mourneview Park offers their best chance yet, with Ukraine also earning a solitary point so far and Magilton goes in with a positive mindset.

"We go into every game to win it so I'm expecting to ask Ukraine plenty of questions," he told Press Association Sport.

"Apart from the result against France we are really pleased with that game. We have to set a stall out with the quality they've got and our players executed their game plan near perfectly.

"There are always things you can do better, and for us that's in terms of of how we hurt the opposition, but to go to a team of that level and nearly come away with a result should give us a lot of confidence."

Ryan McLaughlin, the Liverpool defender on loan at Aberdeen, is suspended after picking up a second booking in France, but Luke McCullough should once again lead the side.

The Doncaster defender has won five senior caps and is in contention for a place at next summer's European Championship.

"Luke adds experience and presence to our group and we're in need of both," said Magilton.

"His time with the senior team rubs off on what is a young group of players and he brings real leadership."

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