O’NEILL WANTS THE WORLD

N IRE­LAND v NOR­WAY Live on Sky Sports 3 – 7.45pm

Midweek Sport - - NEWS -

MICHAEL O’NEILL can’t wait to get started as North­ern Ire­land boss – but has called for re­al­ism ahead of a rough World Cup qual­i­fy­ing cam­paign.

The for­mer Sham­rock Rovers chief, 42, was ap­pointed Nigel Wor­thing­ton’s suc­ces­sor at the end of De­cem­ber and will fi­nally get his first taste of ac­tion tonight.

He has two more friendlies – against Hol­land and Fin­land – be­fore kick­ing off a dif­fi­cult pur­suit for a spot at the

2014 World Cup. Look­ing to reach a ma­jor tour­na­ment for the first time since 1986, North­ern Ire­land have pushed hard in the last three qual­i­fy­ing cam­paigns.

They will face Por­tu­gal, Rus­sia and Is­rael in their bid to fi­nally end their wait – and O’neill, who ap­pointed Steven Davis as his new skip­per, is look­ing for steady progress. He said: “There will al­ways be an el­e­ment of nerves.

“The build-up was worse than ac­tu­ally be­ing here be­cause when you get the chance to ac­tu­ally work with the play­ers you re­alise what you have to deal with and that’s been very pos­i­tive.

“It’s a very proud mo­ment to get the op­por­tu­nity at my age.

“The last cam­paign fin­ished on a dis­ap­point­ing note, but I look at a group of play­ers that has ev­ery­thing to gain and noth­ing to lose.”

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