Northern Ireland will not be resting on their laurels following their exploits in Sarajevo when they face Austria tonight in the UEFA Nations League, according to manager Ian Baraclough.
The Northern Ireland boss is keen for his team to “build momentum” following the dramatic penalty shoot-out win against Bosnia and Herzegovina in the Euro 2020 Path B play-off semi-final last Thursday.
He has hinted that he will make tweaks to the eleven that started against the Bosnians. He also said his focus now is on securing points in the Nations League.
The Bosnia game is gone now. We have been refocusing and want to take the momentum into these next couple of fixtures
"You can't expect the same team to be rolled out for three games within six days. That's a tough schedule for any squad,” he pointed out.
"The Bosnia game is gone now. We have been refocusing and want to take the momentum into these next couple of fixtures.”
Northern Ireland started their League B Group 1 campaign with a hard-fought draw in Romania last month followed by a heavy home defeat to Norway.
Baraclough’s team are bottom of the group but with ranking points at stake the Northern Ireland boss is keen to see an improvement in Nations League performances, starting with the game against Austria at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park (7.45 start) and then a trip to Oslo to face Norway on Wednesday.
The Austrians will definitely be without talismanic striker Marko Arnautovic, who plays his club football in China. Arnautovic has not been allowed to travel back to Europe due to Covid restrictions.
And there is also a major doubt over their other star player, David Alaba. The Bayern Munich defender/midfielder trained in Belfast last night, however he is nursing an injury, according to his club.
Marcel Sabitzer of RB Leipzig was expected to lead the line instead of Arnautovic during the current international break but he is also out through injury, so Austria boss Franco Foda is expected to deploy the two strikers who started in the 2-1 friendly victory over Greece on Thursday, Adrian Grbic and Karim Onisiwo.
Austria’s five-strong backline is well organised, while in midfield the experienced Julian Baumgartlinger, Alessandro Schopf and Raphael Holzhauser are expected to drive the team forward.
Grbic and substitute Christoph Baumgartner scored Austria’s goals against the Greeks. Baumgartner will be pushing for a start alongside striker Michael Gregoritsch, who was also on the bench for that game.