O’NEILL PRAISES LEAD­ERS

Sunday Mirror (Northern Ireland) - - Sport - BY DAR­REN FULLER­TON

MICHAEL O’NEILL be­lieves his se­nior stars have pro­vided a plat­form for North­ern Ire­land’s his­toric Euro 2020 qual­i­fy­ing start.

Younger trio Ja­mal Lewis, Bai­ley Pea­cock­Far­rell and Paddy Mc­Nair, who scored Tues­day’s win­ner in Be­larus, have grabbed the head­lines in re­cent days. But O’Neill (left) says cap­tain Steven Davis and de­fen­sive duo Jonny Evans and Craig Cath­cart are piv­otal to North­ern Ire­land’s chances of gate­crash­ing next sum­mer’s fi­nals.

The Green and White Army lies top of Group C with 12 points from 12, the first time the team has started a cam­paign with four straight wins.

“We talk a lot about the younger player, but the per­for­mances of Evans, Cath­cart and Davis in par­tic­u­lar have been fan­tas­tic,” said O’Neill.

“Play­ing in those po­si­tions, it gives us sta­bil­ity and a plat­form to play. They en­able us to pass the ball bet­ter as we do now as a team. Steven is a great cap­tain.”

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