Northern Ireland v Lithuania live stream, Friday 12 November, 7.45pm GMT
Northern Ireland will be targeting a third-place finish in Group F after their World Cup qualification hopes came to an end in October.
Back-to-back defeats by Switzerland and Bulgaria last month left second spot in the group out of Northern Ireland’s reach. They are nine points adrift of the top two heading into the penultimate round of fixtures on Friday, having won only one of their six games to date. That victory came in the reverse fixture against Lithuania, and Northern Ireland would climb above Bulgaria and into third if they repeat the trick at Windsor Park.
It was always going to be tough for Ian Baraclough’s side to progress to the play-offs. Italy are the reigning European champions and Switzerland reached the quarter-finals of the tournament in the summer; unsurprisingly, those two teams have dominated this group. Northern Ireland will stand a better chance of qualifying for a World Cup when the tournament is expanded to 48 teams in 2026.
Lithuania are bottom of Group F and have already played seven games, so they must beat Northern Ireland in Belfast to have any chance of avoiding last place. Valdas Urbonas’s men performed well in a 3-1 triumph over Bulgaria in October, but Lithuania have lost six away games on the bounce – including a 4-0 thrashing by Kosovo and a 3-1 loss to Latvia.
Michael Smith has once again been left out of the Northern Ireland squad, with Baraclough explaining that the Hearts defender has asked to remain at home due to a combination of injury niggles and personal reasons.
Nottingham Forest teenager Dale Taylor has been called up for the first time, while Reading goalkeeper Luke Southwood is another new face in the squad. At the other end of the experience spectrum, Steven Davis is in line to win his record-extending 131st cap for his country.
Kick-off is at 7.45pm GMT on Friday, 12 November, and UK viewers can watch it on Sky Sports Main Event and Sky Sports Football. See below for international broadcast options.
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