Gavin Whyte says Northern Ireland not basking in Malta win with focus on Ukraine
Gavin Whyte insisted Northern Ireland would not spend time celebrating Sunday’s friendly win over Malta as they plot an upset of Ukraine on Thursday night.
Whyte was among the goalscorers in the 3-0 win in Klagenfurt, Austria, as Ian Baraclough finally got a win inside 90 minutes at the 12th attempt while also seeing his side score more than once for the first time in his tenure.
“We needed it,” Whyte said of the win. “The (results) haven’t been what we deserved lately but we really deserved this win.
“But we need to regroup and go again because we have another game in a couple of days.
“Hopefully we’ll come out of this trip with two wins.”
Whyte’s 53rd-minute strike was his third Northern Ireland goal in 18 appearances.
The 25-year-old was given an unfamiliar role by Baraclough, asked to play at right wing-back, but still provided a threat going forward.
“I played him in an unusual position for him but I wanted to look at him in there and he will have increased his knowledge and experience of what’s required if he’s needed there,” the manager said.
“I thought he was a threat for the majority of the game and it was a nice incisive passing move for him to then go and finish and he finished very calmly.”
Whyte admitted he needed time to adjust to his new role but saw the experience as beneficial.
“It was different, something I’m not used to,” he said. “I think it’s more defending than attacking but I’m just glad to be out there and I will play anywhere the manager wants me to play.
“I really enjoyed it. It’s a different role but as a player it is really enjoyable to be able to play different roles for the team.”
The performance will give Baraclough’s side plenty to build on but they know more will be needed in Dnipro on Thursday against a Ukraine side bound for Euro 2020.
“We’ll see them more in the next couple of days when we do our work on them, like we do with every team we face,” Whyte said.
“I think it will be a tougher test but it’s one we are really looking forward to.”
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