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Norwood selected for Belarus friendly

21 May 2016

Midfield man called up for Ulstermen's preparations

Reading midfielder Oliver Norwood has been selected for Northern lreland's friendly fixture against Belarus this Friday (27th May) - the final fixture before the 23-man squad is finalised to travel to Euro 2016.

The Royals man is one of 28 players in contention to face Belarus, and following Friday's 7.45pm kick-off at Windsor Park, five names will be trimmed from Michael O'Neill's team in time for the Euros squad announcement at midday on Saturday.

The final selection will then play their last preparatory fixture on Saturday 4th June as they travel to Slovakia.  Eight days later, they will kick off their first ever European Championships finals campaign as they meet Poland in Nice - then it is on to Lyon to face Ukraine, before they complete their Group C fixtures in Paris against Germany.

Norwood was a key member and regular starter for O'Neill's squad for the qualification campaign, helping the Ulstermen to achieve the seemingly impossible by topping their pool - despite being pulled out of Pot 4.  The Green and White Army won six and drew three of their 10 qualifying fixtures, creating history by finishing above favourites Romania and making their first appearance at the competition.

Northern Ireland boss O'Neill said: "We will use the Belarus game to look at our options, our systems and how we play. It's also a chance to look at personnel and to give players opportunities.

"We are on a good run at the minute and we want to continue that run. It is important that we approach the match in the same way as we have approached all our other games since qualification.

"The Belarus and Slovakia games will both be very important. I think that they will both be good tests for us, particularly the game away in Slovakia. They are what we need because when we come to the tournament we are going to have to reach very high levels, possibly levels that we have never reached before."​

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