Northern Ireland will have to bring their A game to their qualifiers against Netherlands and Germany if they are to reach the finals of Euro 2020, according to Jonny Evans.
The Northern Ireland vice-captain said facing the Dutch and Germans in European Qualifiers Group C will be a tough proposition.
“It will be a huge challenge and a focus for the group. We have really got to perform if we want to qualify,” he said.
The central defender admits Germany are the best team he has faced on the international stage.
But he is hoping Northern Ireland’s recent experiences against them - in two World Cup 2018 qualifiers and at Euro 2016 - will mean they will be better equipped when they come up against Joachim Low’s side during the Euro 2020 qualifiers.
He admitted he is looking forward to facing the Dutch, who have been enjoying a revival under Ronald Koeman after failing to qualify for the last two major tournaments. The Leicester defender has not played against the Netherlands on the senior international stage before.
Evans said: “The Dutch are a really, really good side. They have some outstanding players, including a crop of great young players at Ajax and the likes of Virgil Van Dijk and Georginio Wijnaldum at Liverpool. I think both the Northern Ireland players and the fans will enjoy going to Holland. It will be a great occasion.”
The defender pointed out that Estonia and Belarus, the other two teams in the group, will be a different proposition to the Dutch and the Germans.
“I don’t know much about either of them. However, Michael (O’Neill) will do his homework as usual and we will be well prepared when we meet them. It will be crucial to win those games regardless of how we get on against the bigger teams,” he said.