The Northern Ireland senior women’s team’s Euro qualifier against Belarus next month has been postponed.
Kenny Shiels’ squad were due to face Belarus away in UEFA Women’s Euro 2021 Qualifying Group C on 14 April.
However, UEFA has now informed the Irish Football Association that the match has been postponed and will be rescheduled. It is likely it will now be played in October instead, but that still has to be confirmed.
As things stand the return fixture against Belarus in Belfast will go ahead as planned on 5 June, however that is subject to a review of the situation in relation to the continuing coronavirus pandemic.
Northern Ireland are also due to face Faroe Islands at home on 9 June in the second part of a double header before travelling to the Faroes on 18 September.
The winners of Qualifying Group C - Norway are almost out of sight in that respect - will automatically qualify for the Women’s European Championship finals scheduled for 2021 with the second-placed team set for a play-off.
And Kenny Shiels believes a play-off spot is achievable. His team lost home and away against high flying Norway last year but they also secured draws against Wales home and away.
If Shiels’ team, currently in fourth place in the group, manage to win their remaining fixtures and table toppers Norway defeat the current second-placed Welsh home and away then a play-off spot is a distinct possibility, however the pragmatic manager will no doubt be keen to take it one game at a time.
His squad’s performances at the Pinatar Cup in Spain earlier this month once again showed the senior women are making steady progress.
They lost to Iceland (1-0), Ukraine (4-0) and Scotland (2-1), countries who are all ranked much higher than Northern Ireland, but the manager was happy with the level of performance at the tournament
"We went toe to toe with Scotland, who beat us 2-1, and they're quite a bit ahead of us in terms of their development programmes, and we were the better team against Iceland, who are ranked 18th in the world," he pointed out.
During the trip to Spain the manager presented defender Ashley Hutton with a commemorative cap from the Irish Football Association to mark her reaching the 100 caps milestone for her country – she earned it against the Welsh last autumn – and he also made presentations to Simone Magill and Marissa Callaghan who have both reached the 50-cap mark.
See picture gallery featuring the players with their caps.