Conor McLaughlin fully focused on Qatar challenge

Conor McLaughlin
Conor McLaughlin

Conor McLaughlin knows the focus is on Euro 2016 success, but says Northern Ireland’s friendly against Qatar on Sunday, is important for him.

He last played on May 3, coming on as a late substitute for Fleetwood against Port Vale, so is itching to get out on the pitch again.

He said: “It is strange playing an international game in Crewe but it’s one I’m looking forward to.

“All the lads know the main focus is on the Romania game but this will be good for those of us who haven’t played in four weeks.

“Most of the squad are in that position so minutes on the pitch is important.

“As much as the results of friendlies don’t really matter, we all want to put in a performance because your confidence always gets a boost when you win games.”

The game is part of the Qatari FA’s tour of the UK, during which they also play Scotland on June 5.

Northern Ireland know little about Jose Daniel Carreno’s team, but it’s not a tactical battle.

The defender said: “We don’t know much about the Qatar side but by the time we face them, we will have seen DVDs of them and know as much about them as possible.

“They may not have star names, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be difficult opposition.

“There aren’t many people in the UK who have played against them so I’m sure it wasn’t easy getting information but Michael and his staff are brilliant at that sort of thing and we will be ready for them.

“From what I’ve heard so far, their players are athletic and quick so it will not be an easy night.”

Northern Ireland come back across the water on Monday morning, before a behind-closed-doors game against the Republic of Ireland, in Dublin.

“It’s all part of preparing for the biggest European qualifier, in the country’s history.

McLaughlin added: “We have this game then the game in Dublin before the Romania one.

“There’s no doubting that will be the biggest game in Northern Ireland for many years, but we seem to be saying that about every home game recently.

“Things are going well and we just want to keep on working hard, prepare in the right way and the results will hopefully come.”