EURO 2016: Iain Dowie believes Northern Ireland can be Leicester of Euro 2016

Northern Ireland's Josh Magennis and Luke McCullough pictured during their first training session in St Georges de Reneins, France
Northern Ireland's Josh Magennis and Luke McCullough pictured during their first training session in St Georges de Reneins, France
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Iain Dowie reckons Northern Ireland can “do a Leicester” and defy the odds at Euro 2016.

The Foxes were 5,000/1 rank outsiders for the Premier League title while Northern Ireland are amongst the also rans at 500/1 to win the European Championships.

Northern Ireland legend Dowie believes his beloved countrymen can take heart from Leicester’s success – and believes Michael O’Neill’s battlers will surprise a few nations in the competition.

Dowie, who won 59 caps for Northern Ireland scoring 12 goals, says the tactics adopted by O’Neill are similar to Champions Leicester in that he doesn’t mind giving up possession with success built on not conceding.

And the much-travelled centre forward and experienced manager told bookmaker Betfred’s TV station where he is a regular pundit, that the formula will at least be enough to get Northern Ireland out of the so called group of death against World champions Germany (4/1 to win the tournament), Poland (50/1) and Ukraine (100/1).

Dowie, aged 51 said: “Ukraine are greatly experienced and Poland have some special players. I think it’s going to be a very tough group and I would be confident of getting a draw with either Poland or Germany and beating Ukraine. It’s a one-win group and you’re through.

“ Northern Ireland are very resolute and don’t mind grinding out wins. We know how to defend and we should be capable of getting out of the group. We are very good at set-pieces. Paddy McNair has been doing brilliantly and I hope Jose Mourinho at Manchester United will do some work with him because there is a footballer in there.

“ If Kyle Lafferty clicks we have a good chance. We’re organised and disciplined and Steve Davis makes great runs from midfield. He is a special player, probably our best. Lafferty just has that knack of getting on the end of it for us. He is as quick as the wind so if he scores a few we will have a good tournament. I will be with the 40,000 in France. It should be brilliant and remember we are the form team in Europe and ranked 25th in the world. I can’t wait.”

Dowie has predicted a third place in Group C for Northern Ireland, 3/1 favourites France to be European champions with Austria as his best outside bet (33/1 with Betfred).