European Qualifiers: Northern Ireland boss Michael O'Neill hails squad potential
Last Updated: 04/09/14 5:09pm
Northern Ireland boss Michael O'Neill says he has a squad with "potential" as he looks forward to his second qualification campaign in charge of his country.
Wales are away to Hungary in their opening European qualifier on Sunday in a group that also includes Greece, Romania, Finland and the Faroe Islands with O'Neill cautiously optimistic about their chances.
"I don't know if we're a stronger squad than we were two years ago but I think we're a squad with more potential," he said.
"We've benefited from the time we've worked together, we've had a chance to build something, and there have been positives this summer in terms of the players' club situations.
"This time last year we still had four or five lads with no clubs sorted and it's asking a lot of someone who is unattached to come in and play qualifiers.
"But this time the ones who were looking - Craig Cathcart, Aaron Hughes, Chris Baird, Sammy Clingan, Roy Carroll - all got resolved nice and early.
"All the players have had a decent pre-season and we'll feel the benefit of that."
O'Neill is pleased that 36-year-old goalkeeper Roy Carroll is back playing regular football in England with Notts County after struggling to get games with Olympiakos in Greece.
"There's no doubt about it, Roy is capable of playing at a higher level than League One but at this stage of his career the most important thing is that he is playing week in, week out," said O'Neill.
"The reports on Roy are very positive already and I went to see him myself earlier in the season when he was excellent.
"He is still an excellent goalkeeper, he's shown that with us, and now he's back enjoying himself and playing with a smile on his face.
"It's good for us that both of our other keepers, Alan Mannus and Michael McGovern are playing regularly in the SPL but Roy is in a good frame of mind."
Watch Northern Ireland's European Qualifier away to Hungary live on Sky Sports 3 HD on Sunday, with coverage underway from 4.45pm.