Northern Ireland defender Gareth McAuley believes Michael O’Neill’s men will spring a few surprises at the European Championship this summer.
World Cup holders Germany, Poland and Ukraine are in Group C with Northern Ireland, who have been handed a difficult draw in their first major tournament since the 1986 World Cup.
O’Neill’s side equalled an all-time record when stretching their unbeaten streak to nine games against Wales on Thursday, but the odds of them progressing to the knock-out stages this summer are considerable because of the calibre of players they will face.
However, 36-year-old defender McAuley is not fazed by the likes of Thomas Muller, Robert Lewandowski and Andriy Yarmolenko and says O’Neill is hatching tactics that will ensure they can bank on the element of surprise.
“You say the group’s daunting, I’d say we have a good chance of getting something out of it, without getting ahead of ourselves,” said the West Brom man. “But, with Michael’s plan, we could surprise a few.
“We’ll have different things that we’ll use and we will surprise these teams as well. Things we’ve practised, but not yet used in the campaign, so I think these teams will be wary of us.
“Obviously we have to deal with the occasion and focus on the job, but judging by the ticket sales we’ll be taking half the country with us, so it will be an incredible experience and we’ll run ourselves into the ground for everyone.”