After a very convincing win in their friendly against Israel at Windsor Park on Tuesday, it’s safe to say Northern Ireland are getting their mojo back with the help of young talent coming through the ranks.
Debut star Gavin Whyte scored his first goal for his country with his very first touch of the ball to help the team seal their 3-0 win. Whyte moved from part time Crusaders to Oxford United during the Summer and has already notched up three goals in six games. Jamal Lewis, the 20-year-old Norwich left back made his third appearance in the Israel game and has already shown mature ability in his short time with the Senior team. Leeds goalkeeper Bailey Peacock-Bailey made his debut for Northern Ireland in the Nations League game against Bosnia & Herzegovina where they beaten 2-1, albeit through disastrous defensive errors but great lessons learned for the youngster.
Michael O’Neill is keeping a very close eye on Ian Barraclough’s U21 squad after their magnificent 2-1 win over U21 finalists Spain on Tuesday night at the Carlos Belmonte Stadium. They are in a great position for their final two Euro 2019 qualifying games. Names to watch out for are U21 captain, Liam Donnelly who plays for Motherwell and scored on Tuesday night. Conor Hazzard, Celtic’s goalkeeper who saved a penalty in the first half of the Spain game, he made his Senior debut last Summer. Evertonian striker, Shayne Lavery who scored the first goal for the U21’s on Tuesday and continues to make a huge impact in the team, he made his Senior debut for O’Neill on the Central American tour. Glenavon midfielder Mark Sykes is also promising talent providing stellar performances for his club. The most versatile players of the U21 squad is Bobby Burns, he moved from Glenavon to Scottish club Hearts in the summer and is currently on loan with Livingston in the Scottish Premier League. Burns is very comfortable up front, in midfield or in defence so a fantastic addition to any squad. With the wealth of talent Northern Ireland has coming through the ranks, the future is definitely bright!