Shane Ferguson hoping for big night for Northern Ireland

Derry native Shane Ferguson hopes Northern Ireland can get their first 90 minute win for new boss Ian Baraclough, when they face Bulgaria later this evening.

Wednesday, 31st March 2021, 4:42 pm
Updated Wednesday, 31st March 2021, 4:44 pm
Northern Ireland's Shane Ferguson gets his pass away before USA winger Yunus Musah could challenge. Picture courtesy Jonathan Porter/PressEye

The World Cup qualifier at Windsor Park this evening will be Baraclough's 11th game in charge and would be a perfect time for his first victory.

In fact, the run of results is very similar to Michael O'Neill's reign where he won just once in 18 games, but just like then Ferguson believes there's a sense of gradual progression under Baraclough.

“Yeah, we were saying after the game in Italy, there were a lot of positives to take from the second half performance," he stated.

“The manager said after the game we just have to believe in ourselves a bit more and that we can stand up to these bigger nations.

“We had great chances and with Michael at the start we weren’t getting the results but the performances were getting better.

“Sometimes a bit of luck might not be going your way.

“Yes, we’re obviously frustrated because you want to win every game, but we just have to keep working hard and hope a little bit of luck goes our way as well.

“We’ll just have to keep working hard and hopefully we can get that win soon."

During Michael O'Neill's term, Northern Ireland did well by picking up victories against lower seeds and Ferguson hopes that will be the same case again tonight against Bulgaria.

“You don’t go into games thinking you’re just going to roll a team over. It never works out that way, but we have to have confidence to go and do it.

“It’s a massive game and winning this game would be great for us and give us a lot of confidence heading into the next qualifiers in September."

The former Maiden City Soccer starlet admits playing at the World Cup would be a major highlight in his career and three points tonight against Bulgaria is crucial and those players who played in France, who are still in the squad, can tell younger players about the whole experience.

“It would be massive. When I look back to the Euros, that feeling of going away to a major tournament would be huge again and what it does for Northern Ireland," he added.

"You obviously look back at those moments and the new lads who have come into the squad want to have that same taste and experience that.

"We’ve just got to keep working hard and try and get a good result on Wednesday and carry on from there."

On Sunday, Northern Ireland suffered a narrow 2-1 loss to USA and Ferguson, who played 60 minutes of the friendly, feels the squad can take positives from the game, especially the young players.

“There were a few young players who did really well, the likes of Shayne Lavery who I thought had a great game. He was causing a lot of problems," he explained.

“It’s great to see them coming through and it’s probably the most youngsters we’ve had in the squad in a long time.

“There were lads who didn’t play in the first game, so it keeps the fitness levels up.

“Also you get a look at the younger players in the squad like there were a few playing and making their debuts, which was great to see.

“The lads did really well against a really good team (USA) and the young lads coming through did really well.

“They did themselves no harm and it’s given the manager something to think about as well.”

On the club front it has been a frustrating campaign, as Ferguson has only played 13 games of Millwall's 38 league matches and with his contract up at the end of the season, a decision on his future isn't expected any time soon.

“It has been, to be fair. It’s been a tough season and I haven’t played as much as I would have wanted," he insisted. “Obviously that’s going to affect your international career, so you’ve got to be playing as much as you can.

“I just have to think about those things when it comes to the summer.

“I’m out of contract in the summer, I haven’t spoken with Millwall or anything so I just have to see how things are in the next few weeks and go from there."

The 29-year-old concedes any club decision will also have Northern Ireland on his mind.

“100 percent. It’s been like that even before I came to Millwall. I knew I needed to make sure I was playing to be in the (Northern Ireland) squads back then," he said. “It’s obviously a big thing because you don’t want to be training Monday to Friday and not playing on a Saturday, so it’s obviously a big decision I’ll have to make."