World Cup 2018: Northern Ireland seeking more glory
Northern Ireland are hungry to reach another big tournament after getting to the Euro 2016 finals, says Chris Baird.
Michael O'Neill's side embark on their World Cup qualifying campaign away to the Czech Republic on Sunday.
Derby defensive midfielder Baird recently called time on his NI career, but backs the team for more success.
"They have a taste of it now and will want to continue that and progress. Hopefully we can qualify again and I don't see why not," said Baird.
"It is a big ask," added 34-year-old Baird, who was capped 79 times for his country.
"We never get it easy and we always get some big team in there. We did it in the last campaign and you never know in football what will happen."
With Germany the hot favourites to take the automatic qualifying spot in Group C, Northern Ireland could well be fighting for the runners-up spot with Norway and the Czech Republic.
Since 1950, Germany have failed to top their World Cup qualifying group on just two occasions, finishing second both times.
Northern Ireland manager O'Neill believes his side will be at the sharp end when qualifying concludes.
"We are playing the world champions and there is only one automatic qualifying spot. So it is going to be difficult but we have to be as competitive as we can," said O'Neill.
"We will be very reliant on the key players again, as we were in qualification and in France. The squad is in as good a place as it could possibly be to meet the challenge."
O'Neill, who has been in charge of his country since taking over from Nigel Worthington in 2011, echoes Baird's feelings on his squad's desire to reach Russia.
"They want to continue with it. When you have experienced being at a major finals it certainly whets your appetite and I think we see that in the fact that Baird is the only player not to go forward with the squad."
Northern Ireland will face a Czech Republic team in transition.
"They have a new coach and have had four or five players who have retired from international duty since France," added the NI boss.
"I look back at our Euro 2016 qualification and to come from behind as we did against Hungary and win that opening game just got the ball rolling.
"It got momentum, belief and confidence into the squad and we'll be aiming to do the same again."
|Northern Ireland's 2018 World Cup qualifiers|
|4 September 2016||Czech Republic (away)|
|8 October||San Marino (home)|
|11 October||Germany (away)|
|11 November||Azerbaijan (home)|
|26 March 2017||Norway (home)|
|10 June||Azerbaijan (away)|
|1 September||San Marino (away)|
|4 September||Czech Republic (home)|
|5 October||Germany (home)|
|8 October||Norway (away)|