Northern Ireland boss Michael O’Neill confident players will handle the pressure at Windsor Park

Northern Ireland have won three our of four in Group F
Northern Ireland have won three our of four in Group F

Northern Ireland boss Michael O’Neill has backed his players to handle the pressure when they return to Windsor Park at the end of this month.

O’Neill’s men resume their Euro 2016 qualifying campaign with a home clash against Finland on March 29.

It is another crunch fixture as Northern Ireland look to bolster their encouraging start in Group F.

Three wins from four have O’Neill’s side in second spot in the table, with November’s defeat to group favourites Romania the only blot on the copy book.

Only two of Northern Ireland’s remaining six qualifiers are away from home – against the Faroe Islands in September and Finland in Helsinki in the final pool game on October 11.

O’Neill admits the home advantage will present a new challenge to his players.

“Will playing at home add some more pressure? I think it probably does, but it is something I am confident the players will handle,” O’Neill said.

“It is not a bad thing that there is increased expectation. You want that.

“This is what it is all about. Playing in front of big crowds who expect you to do well.

“We don’t want to be fulfilling fixtures. Of course, we’ll have to manage the higher expectation, but it’s great that our fans have hope and expectation.

“We want to get at teams at home and play with a high energy and tempo.

“It won’t be easy because the teams that still have to come to Windsor are every bit as capable of beating us here as we were of beating them away.”