Training camp is stepping stone for NI says Jackie Burns

Jackie Burns says Northern Ireland’s training camp in Spain is a great “stepping stone” for the squad ahead of a first-ever tournament appearance this summer.

By Steven Crawford
Wednesday, 23rd February 2022, 8:00 am

A big few months lie ahead for Kenny Shiels squad with crucial World Cup qualifiers against against Austria and England in April, and the European Championships in July.

Glentoran goalkeeper Burns feels the camp in Marbella, which has seen them beat the Faroe Islands and draw with Switzerland ahead of today’s meeting with Romania, is great preparation for the squad.

“We’ve taken this trip away to Spain as a stepping stone and to work towards the Euros,” Burns told BBC Sport.

Northern Ireland’s Jackie Burns and Rebecca Flaherty pictured during yesterday’s training session at the Marbella Football Centre, Spain ahead of today’s friendly against Romania. Photo by William Cherry/Presseye

“It is competitive and I think it’s important that we had games against higher ranked teams to show our capability.

“The likes of Switzerland, who are 17th in the world, for us to go and compete against them, it’s good to show that we’re building towards that and that we’re there for a reason and that it’s not by chance.

“We’ve deserved to be there and to get competitive games, it’s good to have and to build on from it extensively and to go in with different gameplans, it’s a whole different type of way we’ve been brought up to play now.”

“Even going into April, they’re preparing us for the big stage in July, but we can’t overlook these games in April because we’ve set a mark on how good we are to be in the finals.

“A few of us have a little belief that the World Cup can be on the horizon now too because we’re competing to get in with the likes of Austria and England.”