Fitness will influence selection - NI boss Michael O'Neill

Paddy McNair
Paddy McNair impressed Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill

Northern Ireland boss Michael O'Neill has indicated that "game readiness" will play a major part in his selection to face Romania in Belfast on 13 June.

O'Neill gave a number of inexperienced players a chance to impress in a 1-1 friendly draw against Qatar in Crewe.

"My team will not necessarily be based on the team that beat Finland but who is most ready to play in terms of when the game occurs," explained O'Neill.

"Fitness levels and intensity in training will show who is game ready."

Among the players who may come into the reckoning for starting berths for the crucial Euro 2016 qualifier at Windsor Park are Paddy McNair and Stuart Dallas, who both caught the eye at Gresty Road.

"Their performances were excellent. We want competition for starting places and those two lads did that with their displays against Qatar.

"There were plenty of positives to take from the game - a lot of our players are in the infancy of their club careers and are being asked to make the step up to play international football.

"I was delighted with a lot of aspects of our play and I thought we played really well for 60 or 65 minutes.

"The pitch was a little bit difficult but we tried to play some good football. We could just have taken more care with our final ball in the first half.

"We didn't turn the possession we had into opportunities as well as we could have but we did well considering that some of those lads haven't played a game in the best part of a month.

"It's important that we got time on the pitch and we applied ourselves well. We just got caught with a little bit of a sucker punch and a good goal. All in all, it was a worthwhile exercise."

Northern Ireland will travel to Dublin on Monday for a training camp at Carton House, before playing the Republic of Ireland in a game behind closed doors on Thursday.

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