‘I’ve never experienced this’ - City keeper makes first competitive Northern Ireland appearance in almost three years

Norwich City goalkeeper Michael McGovern in Nations League action for Northern Ireland against Austr

Norwich City goalkeeper Michael McGovern in Nations League action for Northern Ireland against Austria Picture: Liam McBurney/PA Wire - Credit: PA

Michael McGovern and Northern Ireland are preparing to face rising European superstar Erling Haaland, after the Norwich City goalkeeper made his first competitive international appearance in almost three years.

Burnley keeper Bailey Peacock-Farrell was rested and McGovern wasn’t able to prevent the Irish losing 1-0 at home to Austria in Group B1 of the Uefa Nations League in Belfast on Sunday night.

The 36-year-old had played in three friendlies since the narrow 1-0 defeat to Switzerland across two legs in the 2018 World Cup qualification play-offs in November 2017 but has consistently been called up, earning his 31st cap in the defeat.

“I thought first half we were a bit passive in the game,” said the Canaries stopper. “I think when you come away with the national team the second game is always more difficult, with recovering from the first game, because we do have a small squad.

“I thought second half we started better, we were in their faces more and unfortunate not to score with Liam Boyce’s chance, which would have been a nice equaliser.

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“As much as they would have been good on the ball, they didn’t really have too many chances either.

“The one where the fella put the ball over the bar was a good chance but in fairness I thought Jonny (Evans) got back well and put him off.

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“They’re a good team, they have some good players, they’re always going to get some chances, but I thought the boys defended really well in the game in general.”

It was the second of three games during the break, after a penalty shoot-out win in Bosnia & Herzegovina on Thursday after a 0-0 draw, setting up a European Championship qualification play-off decider against Slovakia next month.

Next up however is a trip to Norway on Wednesday for their next Nations League group game, with Borussia Dortmund striker Haaland having scored three during a 4-0 home win over Romania on Sunday.

“I’ve never experienced this before,” McGovern said of a third game during the break, speaking to Sky Sports. “Obviously we played Norway at home last month (losing 5-1, with Haaland scoring twice) and it was a really difficult game - I see Mr Haaland scored a hat-trick tonight!

“But it’s a good challenge for us and if they put out their full strength team it is going to be difficult but we’ll be ready, we’ll recover and we’ll be raring to go on Wednesday.”

Ian Baraclough’s squad are bottom of Group B1, with just a point from a 1-1 draw in Romania from three games.

McGovern added: “We just have to take it as it comes and regroup. The Nations League has kind of been on the back-burner, to be honest with you, because of the play-offs and stuff like that.

“That’s not to say we don’t want to do well in it, it’s just that we’ve been focused on that. After the dust has settled it would be really good if we can bounce back on Wednesday and get a positive result.”

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