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Northern Ireland: ‘We are ready for the challenge’ – Tanya Oxtoby on Portugal

Northern Ireland are without Sarah McFadden and Megan Bell due to injury, but Cliftonville duo Kelsie Burrows and Danielle Maxwell have returned to the squad.

Oxtoby acknowledged that NI miss McFadden’s “experience” but pointed to the versatility of others in the squad to deputise in her absence.

“You can’t shy away from what she [McFadden] brings to the group, but Deano [Nadene Caldwell] played there last game, that wasn’t the plan but with the virus that went through the squad she had to and I thought she did an exceptional job.

“When I’m looking at the squad, I’m looking at players that can play different positions and I feel like we’ve got that.”

She continued: “Maybe from the outside people may think we look a bit light because we don’t have four or five out and out centre halves, but we have players that can certainly fill those roles if we ask them to.”

Oxtoby was also keen to highlight the exciting talents Northern Ireland have in wide areas, with the likes of Casey Howe, Maxwell and Keri Halliday vying for a place in the team alongside the experienced Lauren Wade.

“It’s an area we are pretty blessed in and I’m excited to see how they get on in this window.

“They will not have as much of the ball, but they will be important when we win the ball back and in transition, but we’re in good stead in those areas.”

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