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O'Neill praises rookie players

Michael O'Neill took a lot of positives from Northern Ireland's draw with Qatar
Michael O'Neill took a lot of positives from Northern Ireland's draw with Qatar

Northern Ireland boss Michael O'Neill has hailed the friendly draw against Qatar in Crewe as a worthwhile venture.

And he has hinted that some of his fringe players may have played themselves into contention for the crucial Euro 2016 qualifier against Romania on June 13.

Stuart Dallas opened the scoring for Northern Ireland three minutes into the second half before Karim Boudiaf equalised on 74 minutes with a beautiful curling shot.

"We got a lot out of it after four days working with the players" said O'Neill. "The team we picked was young and relatively inexperienced.

"There were plus points there. I thought young Dallas, especially, and McNair were excellent.

"Conor McLaughlin again showed up for us prominently and Daniel Lafferty too. He's had a difficult time at club level, only getting game time towards the end of the season. It was encouraging. Real positives all round.

"We're asking some of these lads to step up at international level and they're still at the infancy of their club careers.

"I was delighted with a lot of aspects. For 60-65 minutes we played really well, it was a difficult pitch but we tried to play football.

"We could have taken a little bit more care over the final ball, we didn't turn the possession we had into enough opportunities.

"Given where we are, with some of our lads not having played a game for the best part of a month, some didn't finish in the starting XI for their clubs.

"We'd prepared to win the game, of course, but we got caught with a bit of a sucker punch, a good goal. we give credit to them, it was a good finish.

"All in all a worthwhile excercise."