Northern Ireland: Michael O'Neill says ending drought not easy

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Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill rues missed chances in the 2-0 World Cup qualifier defeat by Israel.

Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill admits curing his team's ills in front of goal will be no easy task.

Once again, O'Neill's team missed a number of great chances on Tuesday as Israel's 2-0 win in Belfast effectively ended any slim Northern Ireland hopes of World Cup qualification.

"It's not as though I can buy a striker," said O'Neill, still without a win after nine games at the helm.

"We got a wee bit of a lesson from Israel in terms of being clinical."

In five World Cup qualifiers to date, O'Neill's side have found the net just three times, all in draws, and have surrendered plenty of winnable points along the way.

They created more than enough chances to put away both Luxembourg and Azerbaijan at home and were on top for much of Tuesday's home defeat only to pay for their lack of goals by conceding twice in the last 13 minutes.

O'Neill knows his side must begin finding the target soon but with record goalscorer David Healy now limited to cameos from the bench and no natural successor emerging from the pack, that will be a challenge.

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Steven Davis and Eli Gutman

"We did miss (the suspended) Kyle Lafferty last night, no doubt," added O'Neill on Wednesday.

"David has had a marvellous career for us but he's not playing regular club football and his impact may be limited coming off the bench.

"The other players we have in that position are very inexperienced at international level.

"We do a lot of attacking play, working on movement and shape and you can do all that in training but the players know themselves when we've had the opportunities we've not done well enough with conversion in any of the games.

"It's not just the forwards, right through the team we've been missing chances."

O'Neill, like predecessor Nigel Worthington, is having to rely on a handful of players who are not automatic starters to change the national side's fortunes.

"At this minute, look at our left side: young Danny Lafferty and Shane Ferguson," added O'Neill.

"They're not established at club level and we're asking them to play important international games.

"They're learning on the job and maybe we're asking too much from them at times."

Captain Steven Davis, who went closest to scoring for Northern Ireland when his close-range shot was blocked by the face of Israel's goalkeeper Dudu Aouate, is as frustrated as his manager.

"We were happy with the performance but not the result. It's the same old story in many ways," said the Southampton midfielder.

"It's just the luck we're having at the minute. We are being punished for every mistake."

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