Dallas urges Northern Ireland to get back to winning ways against Czech Republic
Stuart Dallas has called on Northern Ireland to pick themselves and get a result in Monday’s friendly against the Czech Republic after Thursday’s last-gasp defeat to Holland left them floored.
Two stoppage-time goals saw the Dutch win 3-1 after falling behind to Josh Magennis’ 75th minute goal.
It was a cruel blow for Northern Ireland as it left their Euro 2020 qualifying hopes hanging by a thread.
Michael O’Neill plans to use Monday’s game to give experience to some of the players on the fringe of his squad, but Dallas said the defeat in Rotterdam makes getting a result important.
“That Czech game is a big game for us now,” he said. “We have to go and win that. We don’t want to go there and end up with another defeat.
“We want to win and get us back on a winning streak. It’s up to us to bounce back. If you can’t get up for a game for your country, you’re in the wrong game.
“We’ll prepare as if it’s a qualifier and it’s up to us to go and get a win.”
O’Neill will have an eye on next month’s final qualifiers as he prepares his team. Northern Ireland will face Holland in Belfast before heading to Frankfurt for their final Group C fixtures.
If Northern Ireland win both of those games they could still qualify automatically, but March’s play-offs look to be their best bet now.
“It’s going to be a big ask,” Dallas added. “We haven’t really talked much about the play-offs.
“We set out at the start of the group to give ourselves a chance to progress. We’ve played so, so well in these last two games and haven’t got anything out of it.
“It’s a cruel game at times and unfortunately we are on the wrong end of two results.
“As for the group now, if we go and win our two games we give ourselves a great chance but you have to beat two of the best teams in the world to do that.”
The full 23-man Northern Ireland squad flew to Prague on Saturday with no withdrawals from the original group, though a number of regulars will expect to have little or no involvement in the fixture.
“I’m sure Michael will rotate it a little bit, freshen things up,” captain Steven Davis said.
“It’s important to give other members of the squad some experience of international football as well to try and build for the future.”