George Saville still keeping the faith despite Northern Ireland loss

George Saville on the attack in Belfast last night against Germany during the Euro 2020 qualifying defeat. Pic by PressEye Ltd.
George Saville on the attack in Belfast last night against Germany during the Euro 2020 qualifying defeat. Pic by PressEye Ltd.
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Northern Ireland’s George Saville feels the squad can still draw confidence from defeat to Germany going into their final three Euro 2020 qualifying games.

The 26-year-old felt Michael O’Neill’s side had the Germans rattled in the first half of the Group C clash and because of that the squad still believes they can cause a shock in their remaining games against Holland and Germany.

“We are going to have to believe,” he stated. “We are still right up there and right in there with a fighting chance and we have to believe otherwise we won’t have a chance if we don’t believe.

“We have to do the same again against Holland and make sure that we have the belief in the camp.

“It’s a football match, obviously 11 v 11, yes they are top teams but I believe we can get something out of the game.”

The Middlesbrough man conceded Northern Ireland’s first-half performance did create chances - with Conor Washington going close twice to breaking the deadlock.

“I thought in the first half we did well and could have got a goal from a couple of chances,” he insisted. “We had a gameplan and pressed them right up in the first half and made it not very easy for them and they struggled as you could see.

“We created a couple of chances, Conor had a couple of chances and a few balls flashed across the box and put them under a lot of pressure and made them make a few mistakes so could have nicked a goal.

“Obviously, if we go 1-0 up then it could have been a different game.

“They stick to what they are good at and don’t change what they are doing, but they were sloppy once or twice on the ball and we felt that we could get on top and that we had chances, we could have nicked a goal.

“In the second half they got an early goal and they started to keep the ball well, however, we can still take a lot from the game.

“Obviously they are world-class and they showed that in bits of the second half but we have got a lot of positives to take and we’ll take them into the next three games.”

Saville was delighted that Michael O’Neill gave him the nod in the starting line-up.

“I was happy to be in from the off and obviously against Luxembourg, Michael wanted me to get some minutes and time under my belt, which was good and tonight it was great to start, but I’m just gutted we didn’t get anything from the game,” he said. “I haven’t been starting as much as I want (at club level) and it’s obviously frustrating for any player if you aren’t starting but I’ll keep training hard and, hopefully, I get a chance and get a run in the team.”

q Northern Ireland captain Steven Davis felt his side were let down by their second-half performance.

Davis told Sky Sports: “I thought we had a really good tempo in the first half and pressed really well and in the second half the game got a little bit stretched which suited them.

“They are a top-quality team we knew it was going to be tough, in the first half we gave a good account of ourselves, in the second half we couldn’t reach the same level and they punished us for it.

“In terms of games against Germany, that was our best performance.

“There is still a lot to play for, we know it is going to be difficult in terms of the group, but we have got to give it our all, we haven’t got anything to lose.”

Germany moved above Northern Ireland on goal difference and Holland are three points behind with a game in hand.