NEWPORT, WALES - SEPTEMBER 03: Northern Ireland manager Kenny Shiels during the UEFA Womens Euro Qualifier match between Wales and Northern Ireland at Rodney Parade on September 03, 2019 in Newport, Wales. (Photo by Alex Davidson/Getty Images) NOTE: FAWSL Full-Time uses images provided by the following image agencies via OneFootball: Getty Images (https://www.gettyimages.de/)

Northern Ireland boss Shiels nervous to learn if team can compete at EUROs

Northern Ireland head coach Kenny Shiels admits that he is nervous to see whether his team can compete with some top class opponents at this summer’s UEFA Women’s EURO.

The Green and White Army are the lowest-ranked nation to ever feature at a UEFA Women’s EURO finals. Northern Ireland have been drawn in Group A alongside hosts England, seventh-highest UEFA-ranked nation Norway and Austria, a side which reached the semi-finals of the last EUROs in 2017.

When speaking to The Irish Football Association whilst preparing for this evening’s international friendly against Belgium, Northern Ireland boss Shiels said that he is not nervous for himself but he is nervous to see his side perform at the EUROs.

“I don’t feel nervous about anything because I trust the girls,” Shiels said. “I feel nervous for them for things such as injuries (before the tournament) but it’s bad to talk about ifs, buts and maybes. I’m really nervous for them in case we don’t turn up because we are playing tough opponents. We’ve got the players to a stage where their fitness is okay – in comparison, it is not like England and the other nations.”

Tonight’s game against Belgium will provide Northern Ireland with a big opportunity to build further fitness and some last minute experience ahead of this summer’s EUROs. Shiels went on to say that the challenge for his side is to find a new level of performance.

He said “It’s exactly what we need (a competitive game against Belgium). We have to try and find a way to get through the ceiling but it is going to be difficult because we’ve hit the ceiling where we can go. We are playing teams above us in terms of their status and in terms of where they are at in their developmental programmes, they are quite a way ahead of us Belgium, England, Austria and Norway. We are trying to get through that ceiling if we can.”

Northern Ireland’s international friendly against Belgium in Lier kicks-off at 7pm.

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