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North can handle pressure to qualify for Euros - Magennis

The Northern Ireland squad in training at Bangor ahead of the Euro 2016 qualifier against the Faroe Islands on Friday night in Torshavn
Picture: Pacemaker 
Gareth McCullough

NORTHERN Ireland striker Josh Magennis has said pressure won’t be an issue for Michael O’Neill’s men going into their remaining four Euro 2016 qualifiers bidding to qualify for their first major tournament in 30 years.

The side go into Friday night’s match with the Faroe Islands in Torshavn just a point behind Group F leaders Romania and two clear of third-placed Hungary, with those two meeting on the same night before the Hungarians travel to Belfast on Monday. Kilmarnock frontman Magennis feels there is enough top-level experience within the squad to cope with the expectation on their shoulders.

“If you look at the majority of the team, we’ve all played in high pressure games," said the 25-year-old. 

"We have players who are the most experienced in the team, like Aaron [Hughes], Jonny [Evans], Gareth [McAuley] and Brunty[Chris Brunt], they’ve played in play-off finals, Jonny has played in Champions League quarter and semi-finals and been involved in finals. Most importantly, we’re professionals. You’re always under the microscope in football, so you’ve got be able to take the nerves on board and channel that into success and I think we’ve managed to do that in this campaign.

“If you can’t really handle the pressure, especially at this level, then you shouldn’t be involved in football. It’s not the sport for you,” added Magennis, who admitted that more of the same should suffice for Northern Ireland going into their most important period in three decades.

“If it’s not broken, we don’t need to fix it,” he said.

“The standards are set from the day we get here with what Michael tell us. Training is different depending on the opposition we’re going to face, but the fundamentals are always the same. Our discipline, our self-respect and our respect for the opposition is always the same It’s about keeping that momentum going and keeping the feel good factor about the camp and not letting any cracks seep in from the outside.

“We have a trust and a belief in each other and momentum is key going into the last four games of this campaign,” said the former Aberdeen and Cardiff City man, who is well aware of the dangers a rejuvenated Faroe Islands side may pose.

“We’ve been told to take it a game at a time. We’ve managed to do that very well in this campaign and that’s what we’re doing with the Faroes. We can’t disrespect them and think it’s going to be an easy game because there are no more easy games in international football.

"Going there with the conditions that they are used to and we’re not; it has the potential to be a banana skin if you’re not mentally right,” said the forward, who is ready to make an impact if called upon.

“I’ve been involved in the campaign from the start and I’ve been working hard at club level to make sure I’m ready if Michael selects me,” he said.

“If I am called upon to play, I think my character is big enough to be able to meet the expectations and it’s up to me to show that if Michael puts his trust in me.”

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