Euro 2016: Jonny Evans urges Northern Ireland to attack

By Lyle Jackson in Saint-Georges-de-ReneinsBBC Sport
Jonny Evans was among NI's best players against Poland
Euro 2016
Host: France Dates: 10 June to 10 July
Coverage: Live commentary on BBC TV, BBC Radio, the BBC Sport website and app. Live text commentary on every game on BBC Sport website.

Jonny Evans believes Northern Ireland must adopt a more positive approach against Ukraine on Thursday if they are to avoid an early exit from Euro 2016.

Michael O'Neill's men lost their opening game 1-0 to Poland on Sunday.

"We have identified what went wrong, we are not disheartened," said the 28-year-old West Brom defender.

"We have to be more aggressive," added Evans, who said the squad wanted to pay respects to the Northern Ireland fan who died in an accidental fall in Nice.

It is understood Northern Ireland have asked Uefa for permission to wear black armbands and hold a minute's tribute to 24-year-old Darren Rodgers, from Ballymena.

It is believed Uefa is unlikely to permit a minute's silence, but Northern Ireland fans are planning a period of applause in the 24th minute of Thursday's match.

Sad news

"For us as players, Sunday's match was one of the greatest experiences we have had as footballers, and to wake up the next day and hear the news was terribly sad," said former Manchester United centre-back Evans.

"We have put a request into Uefa because we would like to pay our own respects in some way."

Evans, who played a leading role in a creditable defensive display against Poland, stressed the players' belief that they are still very much in contention in Group C.

"We have watched the Poland match on video and know there are things we can improve on," he said.

"Maybe we did not do things the way we have done in the past.

"We want to get back to the things we are good at, like closing people down, stamping our authority on the match and not letting it pass us by."

Northern Ireland's remaining Group C games
FixtureVenueDate & timeBBC coverage
v UkraineLyon16 June, 17:00ITV, BBC Radio 5 live
v GermanyParis21 June, 17:00BBC TV, BBC Radio 5 live
Live text commentary on every game on BBC Sport website

Point may not be the end

Evans says the tournament's format means they still had a chance of qualifying for the knockout stages even if they only draw on Thursday.

Asked if the Ukraine match was a 'must win', Evans said: "Well, we could still beat Germany and draw this game.

"We need to get a result, but a win on Thursday would give us a great belief going into the last match.

"Facing Germany in Paris with something to play for - it doesn't get much better than that."

Manager O'Neill has refused to be drawn on whether he will field another striker to support Kyle Lafferty against Ukraine.

If he does, Conor Washington or Jamie Ward could come into the starting line-up in Lyon.

Ukraine's assistant coach, former AC Milan star Andriy Shevchenko, has vowed that his side "will attack" in Thursday's game.

"There is time to choose the right tactics for the game but one thing is clear - we will attack. At the same time, we need to be accurate, especially at the back," said Shevchenko.

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