Michael O'Neill says bans won't derail N Ireland's Euro 2016 hopes

Michael O'Neill says Chris Baird's dismissal against Hungary is the most unusual red card he has ever seen

Northern Ireland boss Michael O'Neill is confident that suspensions will not derail his team's Euro 2016 hopes.

A home win over Greece on 8 October will earn a finals spot but in-form striker Kyle Lafferty is among a trio set to miss the game because of bans.

Chris Baird is ruled out after his red card in Monday's 1-1 draw with Hungary while Conor McLaughlin is also suspended.

"You have to be able to deal with suspensions," said O'Neill.

"We have options. Kyle being out is a blow, of course it is, but someone else will step up."

Baird was sent off after 75 minutes of Monday's game after being cautioned for two separate tackles in the same passage of play.

After the game, manager O'Neill hinted that there might be an appeal against Baird's ban but this possibility appears to have receded after International Football Association Board secretary Lukas Brud told the Irish FA that the decision had been correct.

With Northern Ireland away to Finland three days after the Greece game, draws in both their concluding fixtures will be enough to secure O'Neill's squad a spot in France.

Magennis and Ward in frame for Greek game

Michael O'Neill celebrates after Kyle Lafferty's late equaliser against Hungary
Northern Ireland looked set for crushing disappointment before Lafferty's last-gasp equaliser

Lafferty's last-gasp equaliser against the Hungarians was his seventh strike of Northern Ireland's 12 goals during the Group F campaign.

But despite Lafferty's huge contribution, O'Neill believes that Kilmarnock striker Josh Magennis and a fit-again Jamie Ward will be able to shoulder the attacking burden against the Greeks.

O'Neill also says the experienced Aaron Hughes is an obvious replacement for banned full-back McLaughlin while Manchester United's Paddy McNair is a possible replacement for midfielder Baird.

"We've seen little glimpses of what Josh Magennis can offer up front. He's a physical presence, he's powerful and I don't think people fully appreciate what he gives to this squad.

"With Conor (McLaughlin), we have Aaron Hughes who has played right-back, Paddy McNair can play there too and he is also an option in the middle of the pitch where Bairdy plays.

Group F

"Hopefully we'll be stronger in other areas come October too, Jamie Ward will hopefully be back from injury and Jonny Evans will have more minutes under his belt by then."

Magennis undoubtedly has the biggest boots to fill.

Lafferty has been a revelation in qualifying, with only Poland's Robert Lewandowski and Germany's Thomas Muller bettering his goals tally - not bad company for a player who was surplus to requirements at Norwich last season and has yet to play domestically due to injury this term.

Magennis has played 14 times for his country, but has started just once and has yet to open his account.

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