Northern Ireland vs Austria preview: Michael O'Neill's side aim for consolation win
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Last Updated: 17/11/18 7:06pm
Northern Ireland finish their UEFA Nations League campaign against Austria on Sunday, knowing they are already relegated from Group B3.
Michael O'Neill's side have lost all three of their matches and will be relegated to League C whatever the result against Austria, who cannot pip Bosnia and Herzegovina to top spot.
Northern Ireland have scored just once during their Nations League campaign despite creating 46 chances across their three games. They also drew 0-0 with Republic of Ireland in a friendly on Thursday.
O'Neill has played down the importance of relegation, saying he is more concerned about preparing for next year's Euro 2020 qualifiers, with Northern Ireland due to learn their opponents when the draw is made on December 2.
"We played the other night with a starting line-up of five core players and six who are in single figures in terms of caps - Gavin Whyte, Liam Boyce, George Saville, Jamal Lewis, Michael Smith and the goalkeeper (Bailey Peacock-Farrell)," he said.
"We're progressing, those boys are stepping up in international football and playing against a lot more experienced players. I've been delighted with how the players have come in. We've got good competition for places in a lot of areas on the pitch, at times we haven't had that.
"So despite the fact the three games have gone against us, we were disappointed to lose the games but I'm not devastated or despondent."
O'Neill's starting line-up in Dublin featured only two changes from their last Nations League outing, a 2-0 defeat to Bosnia and Herzegovina in Sarajevo in October, but he suggested he is likely to freshen things up once again on Sunday.
"We'll see where we go but what I do have is 28 players - we let Tom Flanagan go back to Sunderland to play on Saturday - but we have 28 players, no withdrawals, there's a bunch of lads desperate to play.
"It's a healthy situation to be in. We'll probably make a few changes for Sunday. I know everyone will be itching to play."
Northern Ireland are likely to make changes from their draw with Republic of Ireland.
Oliver Norwood is not in the squad as he is suspended, while striker Jamie Ward will also be missing as he has a dead-leg.
Austria will make a late decision whether to play Marko Arnautovic as they continue to manage his persistent knee injury.
The West Ham forward trained away from his team-mates as the Austrian players took to the Windsor Park pitch on Saturday evening.
- Northern Ireland are winless in their last three games against Austria (D1 L2), after winning each of their previous three before this run.
- Austria have been victorious in their two most recent meetings with Northern Ireland, including in the reverse fixture in Austria last month (1-0).
- Northern Ireland are currently winless in seven competitive games (D1 L6), scoring only twice in this period. They last went eight such games without victory in March 2013 (a run of nine).
- Austria have lost three of their last six games in all competitions (W2 D1), as many as in their previous 17 games (W9 D5).
- Northern Ireland have failed to score in three consecutive games for the first time since November 2017 - they last went four games without a goal in June 2014.
- Kyle Lafferty is the top scorer in this Northern Ireland squad with 20 goals, but the Rangers forward hasn't scored for the national team since November 2016 (v Azerbaijan).