Slovenia vs Northern Ireland predicted lineups: Can Michael O’Neill work another miracle?

Slovenia vs Northern Ireland predicted lineups: Can Michael O’Neill work another miracle?
Photo by Icon Sport

Slovenia take on Northern Ireland on Thursday night in a game that looks like a must-win fixture for Michael O’Neill’s men. Northern Ireland trail Slovenia by four points as things stand in Group H and have significant work to do if they are to qualify for Euro 2024. The match is being played on Slovenian soil at the Stozice Stadium in Ljubljana and kick off is scheduled for 19:45 UK time.

Slovenia vs Northern Ireland predicted lineups and news

Slovenia come into this match on seven points in four matches in Group H and are very much in the qualification picture. They are two points adrift of Finland and Kazakhstan, who occupy the top two positions and are level on points with top seeds Denmark. Northern Ireland, meanwhile, are in the midst of a three-match losing streak and are on just three points after their opening four games.

Slovenia team news

Slovenia’s squad may not have a whole host of household names in its ranks but there are still a few notable players who are fit and raring to go. The biggest name in the Slovenian squad is unquestionably Atletico Madrid’s Jan Oblak, the nation’s captain, and he will once again start in between the sticks on Thursday night.

At the other end of the pitch, RB Leipzig’s Benjamin Sesko is the side’s go-to man for goals and the giant striker will be eager to add to his six international goals against Northern Ireland. At the age of 20, Sesko is regarded as one of the brightest young strikers in world football and will lead the line for his country for at least the next decade.

Manager, Matjaz Kek, is in the enviable position of having a fit and healthy squad to pick from but he could still hand starts to a few inexperienced players. Uncapped forward, Aljosa Matko, has received his first international call-up and could start alongside Sesko in a 4-4-2 with the home side eager to impose themselves on Northern Ireland from the off.

benjamin sesko
Benjamin Sesko (RB Leipzig) Photo by Icon sport

Northern Ireland team news

While his opposite number has a clean bill of health, Michael O’Neill has an extensive injury list that has plagued his side’s qualifying campaign thus far. Long-term injury absentees include Steven Davis, Stuart Dallas and Corry Evans while O’Neill has also lost the likes of Shayne Lavery, Jamal Lewis, Conor Bradley and Dale Taylor ahead of this round of fixtures.

Out of those players that remain, O’Neill will be banking on the likes of Jonny Evans, who has recently re-signed for Man Utd, and Paddy McNair to steady the ship in Slovenia. The latter will likely have to drop into defence following an injury to Daniel Ballard in training.

In terms of reasons to be hopeful, teenager Shea Charles has started four of Southampton’s five Championship games this season and the young midfielder will be key to Northern Ireland’s hopes on Thursday night.

Northern Ireland predicted lineup

Peacock-Farrell, McNair, Evans, Cathcart, Hume, McCann, Charles, Saville, Thompson, Price, Charles

Will Jonny Evans play?

Following relegation to the Championship with Leicester City, Jonny Evans received the phone call of his life when Erik Ten Hag offered him the opportunity to return to Man Utd. Evans has only made one substitute appearance for United so far but will go straight into the starting eleven on Thursday in Slovenia.

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