Northern Ireland keen to go out on high note against Denmark – 5 talking points
Northern Ireland wrap up their Euro 2024 qualifying campaign when Denmark visit Windsor Park on Monday night.
Here the PA news agency looks at the key talking points ahead of the game.
It’s (almost) over
The good news is that this is the last of Northern Ireland’s Group H fixtures. A campaign which began with such optimism unravelled quickly in the first few games and has never recovered, with seven defeats in nine causing Northern Ireland’s world ranking to drop from 59th to 75th.
Michael O’Neill was clear ahead of the game that it was not as simple as drawing a line and moving on because lessons must be learned, but it will still be welcome to change the narrative of a campaign in which any realistic hope of reaching next year’s finals was gone in by the summer.
Can they end on a high note?
O’Neill said in Finland last week that he and his players would need to look at themselves if they could not take something from at least one of their fixtures against someone other than San Marino, but a 4-0 hiding in Helsinki leaves this match as the final opportunity.
Playing a side ranked 19th in the world and the top seeds in the group is hardly ideal in those circumstances, but Northern Ireland were a tight offside decision away from scoring a late equaliser when they lost 1-0 in Copenhagen in June, so they will take some confidence from that.
Shea Charles returns from suspension and Paul Smyth is back in the squad following the hamstring injury which prevented him from travelling to Finland.
O’Neill indicated the absence of both players in Helsinki had limited his options not only in terms of personnel but also the shape of his team so their return will be welcome.
O’Neill admitted he needed to consider whether or