Michael O’Neill preparing to ‘deliver some bad news’ as Northern Ireland boss prepares to name Euros squad

Northern Ireland boss Michael O'Neill

Northern Ireland boss Michael O'Neill

Michael O’Neill admits the prospect of whittling his squad down to 23 players for this summer’s Euros is a daunting one – but a job he has to do.

The Northern Ireland boss will name his final panel on Saturday at Titanic Centre in Belfast.

The 46-year-old will have to trim five players from his 28-man training squad which this week has been housed at Carton House Hotel.

Friday night’s friendly with Belarus will be the last chance for some of O’Neill’s fringe players to book their place on the plane to France this summer.

“You have to deliver bad news as a manager, so it’s part of the process,” he said.

“I have to look at the balance of the squad and pick the 23. I wanted to give players an opportunity over two weeks in camp.

“Listen, I expect players to be disappointed. I’m hoping they won’t attack me.

“But for the players who are left out, it is a moment in time. It doesn’t mean they wont go on to have good international careers.”

Northern Ireland have been based at the lavish Carton House Hotel wear Maynooth as they prepare for Friday’s friendly at Windsor Park.

They are familiar surroundings for O’Neill and his players, having stayed there last year when Northern Ireland played the Republic of Ireland in a behind-closed-doors friendly fixture.

“When we played a behind-closed-doors game against the Republic last year, we came here for four days and the players loved it. The fact everything is on site, it’s just a nice environment to be in,” he said.

“Also, when I was Shamrock Rovers manager and we played Real Madrid in a friendly, the Madrid team stayed here, so if it’s good enough for them.”