Austrian striker seals Vienna win
NORTHERN IRELAND are facing a striking crisis after Marko Arnautovic fired Austria to victory in Vienna last night.
Wigan forward Will Grigg, who hit the post with a late header, suffered a hamstring injury at the death.
Grigg, who hobbled onto the team coach, joins Burton Albion’s Liam Boyce, who picked up a problem in training, on the injured list.
With Kyle Lafferty and Conor Washington also out, Michael O’neill is left with two fit strikers – Josh Magennis and Rotherham’s Kyle Vassell who made his debut in Vienna – ahead of Monday’s trip to Bosnia and Herzegovina.
O’neill may have to turn to Oxford’s Gavin Whyte and
KYLE VASSELL has told Michael O’neill he’s ready to fill a goal scoring void against Bosnia and Herzegovina after making his debut in Vienna.
With Will Grigg and Liam Boyce carrying injuries and Kyle Lafferty and Conor Washington both absent, O’neill is down to two fit strikers for Monday’s game in Sarajevo.
Bolton frontman Josh Magennis, who started last night, is likely to go again against the Bosnians, but Vassell is keen to back up last night’s short cameo at the Ernst Happel Stadion.
The Rotherham United forward said: “If I am called upon, then that’s what I’ll do. I’m here to train hard, work hard, and if I get a chance to play, great.
“The mood is one of frustration, but we have to pick ourselves up and go again on Monday.”
Vassell, who qualifies through a Lisnaskea-born grandfather, was inundated with messages after earning his first cap.
The 25-year-old, who was a late replacement for George Saville, said: “On a personal note, it’s a milestone in my career and I couldn’t be happier.
“I was just warming up and got the shout ‘get your kit on’, so it all came about very quickly. I’ve already had all my messages from my family saying they’re so proud.”
Vassell, a cousin of former England winger Darius Vassell, was close to scoring on his debut when Will Grigg’s late header hit the post and ended up in the keeper’s arms.
“Being a striker is about margins,” he said. “If it had bounced out a bit more off the post I’d have got a goal tonight, but it didn’t.
“It’s all about being in there and being around chances. If it had come back out, I’d have flung my body at it but it went straight to the keeper.”
Vassell praised the 2,600-strong Northern Ireland support who sang their way through last night’s defeat which leaves O’neill’s men facing relegation from the pool.
“The Northern Ireland fans are absolutely amazing,” he said. “They were brilliant and they must be tired now – they didn’t shut up.”
Vassell accepts Northern Ireland have a hill to climb in the group after defeats to Austria and Bosnia.
“We go a game at a time,” he said.
“The manager will tell us what he thinks we need to do on Monday.”
DEFEAT Saville, Vassell and Lewis