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Kenny Shiels urging ‘massive underdogs’ Northern Ireland to enjoy Euro challenge

Northern Ireland v England – Women’s FIFA World Cup Qualifying – Group D – Windsor Park
(Image credit: Liam McBurney)

Kenny Shiels has urged his Northern Ireland Women squad to relish their status as “massive underdogs” heading into next month’s European Championship finals.

Shiels has confirmed his 23-strong squad for the tournament, which will see Northern Ireland face daunting group matches against England, Norway and Austria.

Shiels said: “Our first priority is to try and win a game – it is not beyond the realms of possibility but we are massive underdogs.

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“I will speak with them about these three big matches and I will say: ‘Don’t miss it, enjoy it’.

“This is not something that will make or break us. As long as we give our best and are totally committed to representing our country, then we can walk away with our heads held high.”

Captain Marissa Callaghan has been named in the squad despite missing last week’s warm-up game against Belgium due to a foot injury.

Defender Ashley Hutton is also in the squad after recovering from knee surgery, while sisters Caitlin and Kirsty McGuinness are also involved.

Northern Ireland v England – Women’s FIFA World Cup Qualifying – Group D – Windsor Park

Kenny Shiels has named a 23-woman squad for Euro 2022 (Liam McBurney/PA)

Shiels admitted the experienced 36-year-old Callaghan, who could surpass 50 international caps at the tournament, remains crucial to his side’s success.

“Marissa is so important to our progress – she is like a machine,” added Shiels.

“When she gets knocked over she gets up again, and she gets on with it. She fractured a bone in her small toe but she’s come through that and she’s pretty much ready to go again.”

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