Euro 2016: Northern Ireland’s March friendly with Poland is off

Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill.
Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill.

Northern Ireland’s proposed friendly with Poland in March has been called off after both teams were drawn in the same group for Euro 2016.

It is understood the Irish Football Association is now in the process of finalising alternative opponents for Michael O’Neill’s side.

Speaking to BBC Sport NI, Irish FA Chief Executive Patrick Nelson said: “We had made provisional plans to play in Poland.

“But that was conditional on us not being drawn together at Euro 2016.”

O’Neill will seek help from his Scotland and Republic of Ireland counterparts ahead of Northern Ireland’s European Championship debut in France next summer.

Northern Ireland were placed in the same group as world champions Germany, Poland and Ukraine at the draw in Paris on Saturday.

Both the Republic of Ireland and Scotland played Germany and Poland in qualifying for the tournament, and O’Neill revealed he has already spoken to Republic assistant boss Roy Keane.

Republic manager Martin O’Neill and Scotland boss Gordon Strachan can also expect a call, with Michael O’Neill telling BBC Radio Live’s Sportsweek programme: “I’ll certainly speak to both Martin and Gordon.

“I’ve actually just had a quick chat with Roy Keane at breakfast and he was offering any help they can give us.

“We know a fair bit about Poland anyway and we obviously know the threat of (Robert) Lewandowski. The Ukrainians are a bit more unknown to us but I think one of the real strong points of our preparation has always been our level of detail on the opposition.”