Northern Ireland's Tanya Oxtoby positive over squad change benefits for Euro 2025 qualification bid

It’s a case of fresh faces and fresh hope for Northern Ireland senior women’s manager Tanya Oxtoby ahead of kicking off the Euro 2025 qualification campaign.
Northern Ireland senior women's manager Tanya Oxtoby. (Photo by William Cherry/Presseye)Northern Ireland senior women's manager Tanya Oxtoby. (Photo by William Cherry/Presseye)
Northern Ireland senior women's manager Tanya Oxtoby. (Photo by William Cherry/Presseye)

Northern Ireland host Malta on Friday evening at the National Stadium at Windsor Park aiming to open up with a win before future fixtures over six tests covering April and July in a league programme that also includes Portugal and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Australia-born Oxtoby was appointed manager last August and feels a policy of “the door is open for everybody” offers the best path for progress.

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"Every camp seems to be new faces in, whether that's staff or players,” said Oxtoby. "I think change sometimes is good, it keeps everyone on their toes.

"We've said all along the door is open for everybody and the players that are coming in have performed. We look at the future of this team and the way in which we want to try and play and they're going to play a really, really important part in that.

"Our experienced players play a massive role in that too in educating them in all the things that we've been trying to implement. It's a really exciting time for us.

"I wouldn't be surprised if there's going to be more changes, to be honest...I think that's healthy in any high-performing sport to have competition for places, to make sure you're selecting based on form and the strategy in what you're going after within that window. I think we're in a really good place for that."

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However, one tried-and-trusted tradition Oxtoby is happy to embrace remains the role of Northern Ireland supporters.

"In terms of playing our home game first, it gives the fans an opportunity to come and watch us on a Friday evening,” she said. "We're excited, we want to put in a really strong performance, we want to give them something to get really proud, in terms of the way that we play our football.

"We're two very evenly-matched teams in terms of the way that we go about our football.

"It's going to be a great game and we really hope the home fans come out and drive us over the line."

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