Michael O’Neill: Northern Ireland’s game with Germany ‘real test’ for young side

Michael O’Neill has warned his side as Northern Ireland prepare to face Germany in Monday’s crunch European Qualifier the real test starts now.
The White and Green Army have put themselves to reach next summer’s final with four wins out of four up next and so much in Group C games against Germany and the Netherlands home.
The crucial run of fittings start on Monday when Germany will be the visitors to Windsor Park, and O’Neill knows his team – which has witnessed a large amount of turnover since Euro 2016 – face their biggest test.
“I don’t think we’ve got the level of expertise (in comparison to last time),” O’Neill explained.
“We’ve not substituted Brunt with a seasoned participant. We’ve not replaced McAuley with a seasoned player. We have not substituted Hughes having a seasoned player.
“Potentially, for some of our lads to be thrown into the sport will be a enormous step up in quality.
“We won’t have that identical amount of worldwide experience. It will take some time. What we do need is more energy from the legs than we have ever had in my time. We have been given that by the younger players.
“I wouldn’t say we’re more powerful but we have the potential to be stronger.”
Joachim Low’s side won their opening three qualifiers, such as an opening 3-2 win in Holland, but suffered a setback on Friday when they surrendered an early lead to lose.
“It will be an extremely different Germany team than we’ve played our past few encounters,” O’Neill explained.
“The big names that got the World Cup, there is not many left. Toni Kroos is perhaps the only one besides (Manuel) Neuer.
“However, Germany may turn around their team in three months and still pick an extremely solid squad with the degree of funds they have.
“We have to drip-feed players over a long period of time and give players the chance once we’re not sure whether they are ready or not.”

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