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Ian Baraclough urges Northern Ireland to finish campaign on a high

Ian Baraclough file photo
(Image credit: Brian Lawless)

Northern Ireland boss Ian Baraclough has urged his side to reverse their recent slide in fortunes as they prepare for back-to-back World Cup qualifiers at Windsor Park next weekend.

Baraclough’s men sit second from bottom in Group C after losses in Switzerland and Bulgaria, and will not take anything for granted against Lithuania on Friday before facing Italy three days later.

Lithuania notched their only points so far with victory over Bulgaria last month and Baraclough told the Irish FA’s official website: “We know the Lithuanians are strong, resolute and really compact.

West Bromwich Albion v Millwall – Sky Bet Championship – The Hawthorns

Millwall’s Daniel Ballard is battling a knee injury (David Davies/PA)

“They had a good result at home to Bulgaria and have a new coach who is starting to implement things that he wants to get across to them, and you can see that.

“We want to finish the campaign on a high. We have two home games with our own fans in the stadium so we want them to go home looking forward to the UEFA Nations League and Euro qualifiers which are coming up.”

Baraclough revealed his only injury concern is Millwall midfielder Dan Ballard, who is battling an ongoing knee issue, but no replacements have yet been called upon.

“We are awaiting news on Dan Ballard relating to an ongoing knee issue so we look forward to an update from his club in due course,” added Baraclough.