NATIONS LEAGUE: Ollie Norwood is on the front foot

Oliver Norwood in action against Bosnia last month
Oliver Norwood in action against Bosnia last month

Ollie Norwood says the World Cup qualifier defeat to Switzerland brought about a change of playing style for Northern Ireland.

After the narrow first leg defeat in Belfast Norwood said it was a case of ‘all or nothing’ for the second leg in Basel.

Oliver Norwood with Miralem Pjanic of Bosnia & Herzegovina. Credit �INPHO/Presseye/Stephen Hamilton

Oliver Norwood with Miralem Pjanic of Bosnia & Herzegovina. Credit �INPHO/Presseye/Stephen Hamilton

“In second leg we knew in back of our minds we had nothing to lose,” said the Sheffield United midfielder.

“We started the game really on the front foot and to go and do that against the level of opposition of Switzerland in the second leg of a World Cup qualifier away from home, for us as players it was enjoyable, we felt we gave it a real go.

“We spoke before the game, we didn’t want to have any regrets. Ultimately it was one of those nights where it wasn’t going to happen, but there were a lot of positives in the performance.

“Michael (O’Neill) spoke about how can we drive that forward, be positive and not sit back in games and hope we can nick something. But let’s try and take the initiative and drive it forward.

“We’ve got a good group of players playing a good level, we’ve got good legs in the team, good physicality about us, players who can run and that’s a big thing in the way he wants to play and we’ve seen in last two games it’s something we can do.

“It’s the way football is going now, the modern game has moved on so much that it’s the way that most teams are going.

“For me personally it’s similar to how we play at Sheffield United, on the front foot, starting games fast, trying to take the initiative, trying to force the other team on the back foot.

“Obviously it’s going to be quite difficult to do that at international level against some teams,

“We’re not saying we’re going to go and do that against Germany and teams like that, the top teams,

“But in the National League...playing against teams of similar level, you want to test yourselves and we want to replicate that performance.”

Norwood was disappointed to finish the game against Bosnia & Herzegovina pointless after an impressive display.

He knows Northern Ireland need to pick up points from the next two games, but he says the mood in the camp is relaxed.

“The team’s very relaxed, we know we played well against Bosnia,” he said.

“Obviously we didn’t get the result we wanted but there were real positives to take.

“To do what we did in the first game, the level of performance against Bosnia, if you can’t take courage from that you won’t get courage from any game we play in at this level.

“There are fresh faces in the squad again, fresh input and as I say, as a group of players we see it is another good opportunity to move it forward.

“We don’t want to be relegated into the pot below because then that can affect the Euro draw, we can end up as a pot three team and that will hinder us for the draw.

“We want to stay in the second division and to do that we’ve got to win one of the next two games,” Norwood added.