Kenny Shiels warns players to expect a much tougher test from North Macedonia

Northern Ireland boss Kenny Shiels has warned his players to expect a far different North Macedonia side to the one thrashed 11-0 on Thursday.

The two sides meet again just four days after Northern Ireland’s record-breaking 2023 World Cup qualifying victory in Skopje.

“It was a very good performance and one on which we must build upon,” Shiels said ahead of their Group D return in Belfast on Monday.

“If I’m a player who gets beat 11-0 I’m going to look at myself and say ‘I need to do better’.

Northern Ireland boss Kenny Shiels

“Multiply that by 11 and I’m sure that’s the way they’ll be thinking, that they have to do better.

“It will be tougher now because the element of surprise has gone.

“They are very much in a state of shock and will want to redress it. An early goal would be a big thing again for us.”

Simone Magill scored four times on Thursday as Northern Ireland surpassed their previous biggest win – an 8-0 victory over Taiwan in 2017.

Shiels’ squad were further boosted by group leaders England’s 1-0 win over Austria on Saturday.

Austria and Northern Ireland are locked on 10 points from five games in what appears a battle for second spot and a World Cup play-off place.

“It was important for us that England beat Austria,” Shiels said.

“We need England to beat Austria again in September.

“That would put less pressure on us to get a draw against England, which would be a big ask for our players.

“We still have a chance to be second and that’s phenomenal progress.

“We are usually out of it (qualification) by now. Hopefully when we go to Austria in April we will have more of a professional programme and be a bit fitter.”