‘There’s Nor-way this will be easy’ warns Brunt

Northern Ireland's Chris Brunt pictured during Saturday's squad training session ahead of the World Cup Qualifier against Norway  at Windsor Park. Photo: Colm Lenaghan / Pacemaker
Northern Ireland's Chris Brunt pictured during Saturday's squad training session ahead of the World Cup Qualifier against Norway at Windsor Park. Photo: Colm Lenaghan / Pacemaker
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Northern Ireland dare not get ahead of themselves just yet.

That’s the warning from Chris Brunt, who’s savouring every moment of the current qualifying campaign.

Chris Brunt

Chris Brunt

The 32 year-old made his debut for Northern Ireland 13 years ago, time enough to experience narrowly missing out on qualification for Euro 2008 followed by a rather more lean international period until Michael O’Neill’s revolution.

Now, he’s still getting used to going into games as favourites - such as Sunday’s World Cup qualification match at home to Norway (kick-off 7.45pm).

“With the record we have got at home recently, people may be expecting just to turn up for another win but that’s not always the case,” warned the West Brom star.

“They have a new manager (Lars Lagerbäck) who has a lot of experience at international level and has done well in the past, so I’m sure they’ll be well-drilled and well-organised and they’ll know what we’re all about.

“It’ll be a tough game, I’m sure he’ll have different ideas for them to get results. Obviously they haven’t started the group as well as they wanted to so that’s always one you have got to be careful with.”

Lagerbäck, preparing for his first qualifier as Norway boss, is used to causing a shock. He is the very man who masterminded Iceland’s surprise win over England in the Euro 2016 last 16.

Brunt didn’t take to the pitch in France due to a knee injury but he’s just glad he’s still in with a chance of playing at another major tournament.

“I think that’s the big thing,” he said, “everything’s still to play for and in the past that hasn’t always been the case. (We) were maybe fighting to actually try to win a game in the group.

“It’s just nice that we have that confidence that we can go out and give anybody a game. I think teams are starting to fear coming here; the last two or three years have been really consistent regarding results.”