Mental boost to stay top of the group says George Saville

George Saville with Belarus' Igor Shitov  Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
George Saville with Belarus' Igor Shitov Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com

George Saville feels it is a massive mental boost for Northern Ireland to lead their qualification group going into the next round of games in the summer.

With back-to-back wins over Estonia and Belarus Northern Ireland top group six with a maximum six points ahead of big-hitters Germany and Holland, who both have three points each.

With another double-header coming up against Estonia and Belarus in June, Saville knows it’s vital they pick up as many points as possible along the way.

“Mentally that is good for us,” said the Middlesbrough midfielder.

“We can sit on that for a couple of months now, but we know we’ll have to go again in the summer and push on to pick up another six points from those two games.

“Looking at the table now we have a little bit of breathing space now, that two extra points is crucial for us.

“We never do it easy, but the objective this week was six points and we done that.

“I feel like we dominated the game, they had that one chance and it was a fluke really.

“We kept going in the second half and we got our rewards in the end.”

Northern Ireland left it late against the Belarusians as Josh Magennis fired home a dramatic winner with three minutes to go.

Saville said he never stopped believing a winner would come along.

“You have to keep believing and keep pushing to try and get the winner,” he said.

“When it was 1-1 I was looking at the clock a couple of times, I was thinking ‘we need a goal’.

“But you have to keep believing. That’s the thing with this group, we have massive belief in ourselves as a team.

“We pushed on and thankfully we got what turned out to be the winner in the end.

“Maybe it was better to have finished the way it did with the late winner.

“It also shows the character we have.

“When we come up against the likes of Germany and Holland we are going to have to battle all the way.”

Northern Ireland’s left-hand side looked impressive again with Saville linking up well with Jordan Jones and Jamal Lewis.

“Jordan was excellent again tonight,”said Saville.

“He’s been brilliant down that left-hand side with me along with Jamal.

“I feel like the more we play together the better the partnership will be.

“On his day he can go past anyone.”

The midfielder also had a special metion for the Northern Ireland supporters.

“The fans were brilliant again,” he said.

“The noise coming from them gave us that extra push again. It really is fantastic to play at home.”