MICHAEL O’Neill has promised fans tonight’s game against Finland will feature plenty of the attacking football they have craved for so long.
He insists, however, their expectations must be brought forward to the present day.
“We’re focused on a positive performance,” he said.
“Finland tend to be drawn in pot four of most of their groups so they’re used to tough opposition but we want to go out there tomorrow and play.
“But the expectations have to be realistic and right now, they’re just based on history to be honest.
“We took Kyle (Lafferty) out of training (yesterday) as a precaution more than anything else but everyone else has come through unscathed and Kyle should be fit.
“We have a much, much stronger squad available than we had in Holland in June and we want to try a few attacking options we have available to us.
“The squad is a good blend of experience and youth, and hopefully will get the chance to play the way we want them to – and get a good result.”
O’Neill’s initial squad was named without David Healy or Sammy Clingan, the latter who has since been drafted in to compensate for withdrawals due to injury.
He has stuck by his reasoning, that is neither are currently attached to a club, but has rubbished suggestions Rangers duo Andy Little and Dean Shiels will fall out of favour now the club has tumbled to the Scottish third tier.
“The level of football they’re at? Realistically, they have played two games and we cannot judge them on that,” O’Neill added.
“Rangers may be playing in the third division but they will still prepare for games and train in exactly the same way they always have.
“I would love to pick 22 players from the (English) Premier League but I don’t have that option.
“All the lads have kept in good contact with me in relation to their club situation.
“It is important to me that they’re happy at their clubs and playing at the highest level possible and I spoke to both Dean and Andy before they made their decisions.
“But it would be unfair of me as their international manager to say: ‘If you sign there you won’t get picked.’
“They don’t make their livings through me. They are paid by their clubs.”
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