Northern Ireland make five changes for Ukraine clash

Michael O’Neill makes dramatic decisions in bid to keep side in tournament

Conor Washington (centre) has been named in the Northern Ireland team to play Ukraine in Lyon. Photograph:  William Cherry/Inpho/Presseye

Conor Washington (centre) has been named in the Northern Ireland team to play Ukraine in Lyon. Photograph: William Cherry/Inpho/Presseye

 

Michael O’Neill has made dramatic decisions as he bids to keep Northern Ireland in Euro 2016 beyond today’s encounter with Ukraine in Lyon.

With the Irish needing a point to remain in the tournament for definite, O’Neill has made five changes from the team that froze offensively against Poland in Nice on Sunday, including dropping leading scorer Kyle Lafferty.

Conor Washington starts in place of the Fermanagh striker and O’Neill has reverted to a back four in order to combat Ukraine’s wingers.

Aaron Hughes, 36 and ‘unattached’ is in at right back and Jonny Evans moves to left back. Out go the wing backs Conor McLaughlin and Shane Ferguson.

In midfield O’Neill has picked a three – Corry Evans coming in alongside Steven Davis and Oliver Norwood – and up front Jamie Ward and Stuart Dallas will support Washington.

Uefa’s rules mean that given Northern Ireland’s head-to-head deficit with Poland, should Germany get a point or more later tonight against the Poles, then a defeat by Ukraine would send Northern Ireland out.

A Germany loss to Poland combined with an Irish loss to Ukraine would mean the group goes to Paris on Tuesday where Northern Ireland meet the world champions.

NORTHERN IRELAND (4-3-3): McGovern; Hughes, Cathcart, McAuley, J Evans; C Evans, Davis, Norwood; Ward, Washington, Dallas.

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