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Michael O’Neill: ‘If I named a 35-man squad, Martin O’Neill would be in it’

Northern Ireland’s manager is keeping his team on an upward curve – and with it the World Cup qualification dream – despite having to scrabble around for players

As Gareth McAuley slumped to the Paris turf, his late own goal having afforded Wales the advantage to win a tense last-16 tie, it looked like the end of the road. That did not apply just to Northern Ireland in the specific case of Euro 2016 but the wider context of the team, who had risen from oblivion back to the top table. Upcoming World Cup qualifying – with Germany, Norway and the Czech Republic in the same section – would surely be a bridge too far.

Related: Liam Boyce’s first Northern Ireland goal earns useful victory over New Zealand

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