Jonny Evans has claimed that securing a place at Euro 2020 would be Michael O’Neill’s greatest achievement with Northern Ireland.
Evans is preparing for the first game of a crucial double-header against Netherlands in Group C, with O’Neill’s squad facing a huge challenge to qualify automatically.
Northern Ireland are second in the group, but must play Ronald Koeman’s Dutch team twice before finishing their campaign against leaders Germany next month.
Four years ago, O’Neill guided Northern Ireland to their first major finals in three decades, reaching the round of 16 before an agonising defeat by Wales. And Evans, the Leicester City defender, insists finishing ahead of the Netherlands would eclipse their achievements at Euro 2016 by some distance.
“When you consider Germany and Holland are in our group, it would be a much bigger achievement,” he said.
“We are now in a position where we’ve got to win in Holland and Germany, and win our game against Holland at home.
“We’ll do everything we can to keep the group alive. You just never know in international football.”
Netherlands (probable 4-3-3) – Cillessen; Veltman, Van Dijk, De Ligt, Blind; Propper, De Jong, Wijnaldum; Malen, Depay, Babel.
Northern Ireland (probable 4-4-2) – Peacock-Farrell; Dallas, Cathcart, J Evans, Ferguson; McNair, Davis, Saville, C Evans; Whyte, Magennis.
Netherlands v Northern Ireland
Live, Sky Sports, 7.45