Northern Ireland in 'phenomenal' position says Chris Baird

Chris Baird says Northern Ireland will be in 'unbelievable' place if they can beat Romania on Saturday
Chris Baird says Northern Ireland will be in 'unbelievable' place if they can beat Romania on Saturday
Euro 2016 Group F qualifier: Northern Ireland v Romania
Venue: Windsor Park, Belfast Date: Saturday, 13 June Kick-off: 19:45 BST
Coverage: Live commentary on BBC Radio Ulster and the BBC Sport website

Chris Baird says Northern Ireland can "see the finishing line" as they attempt to book their place at a first ever European Championship finals.

Michael O'Neill's side have won four of their first five games and are one point behind Group F leaders Romania, who visit Windsor Park on Saturday.

Northern Ireland's only setback so far was a 1-0 defeat in Romania in March.

"It's working out for us... the right result on Saturday puts us in a phenomenal position," stated Baird.

It is three decades since Northern Ireland last appeared in a major finals, at the 1986 World Cup, and Baird is starting to believe the long absence could soon be at an end.

A victory on Saturday would leave them well placed with four matches remaining.

Chris Baird says Northern Ireland will be in 'unbelievable' place if they can beat Romania on Saturday
Chris Baird says Northern Ireland will be in 'unbelievable' place if they can beat Romania on Saturday

"We're concentrating solely on this one [against Romania] because if we get that right result we're in an unbelievable place," said Baird.

"We know we can get victory in the Faroes, that's for sure, so if we had two wins from our next two games that's us pretty much qualified.

"That's my personal opinion and I think all the players would agree.

"We're ready for it.

"Now that we're in this position, we can see the finishing line in front of us and we want to get there sooner rather than later."

Northern Ireland's remaining Euro 2016 qualifiers
Romania (home)Saturday, 13 June 2015
Faroe Islands (away)Friday, 4 September 2015
Hungary (home)Monday, 7 September 2015
Greece (home)Thursday, 8 October 2015
Finland (away)Sunday, 11 October 2015

Baird, 33, is one of several hugely experienced Northern Ireland internationals along with Aaron Hughes, Steven Davis, Roy Carroll and his West Bromwich team-mates Gareth McAuley and Chris Brunt.

Most of them have seen more disappointments than glory days in their international careers, but are now excited by the possibility of booking their places at the Euro finals France next year.

"We've had many bad times, the likes of myself, Gareth, Brunty, Aaron... we've been there, done it and failed many times," Baird added.

"But the confidence in this group, with the start we've made, you can see that in training and on the pitch. It's massive for us.

"Obviously we had a setback in Romania but we came back and beat Finland and we're still right on track for what we want to achieve."

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