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Northern Ireland benefit from UEFA Nations League, says Michael O'Neill

during the FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier Play-Off: Second Leg between Switzerland and Northern Ireland at St. Jakob-Park on November 12, 2017 in Basel, Basel-Stadt.
Image: Michael O'Neill thinks highly of the new UEFA Nations League competition

Northern Ireland boss Michael O'Neill believes the new UEFA Nations League competition is "good" for smaller nations.

Northern Ireland face Bosnia & Herzegovina at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park on Saturday in their first Nations League match

The new tournament has been designed to replace international friendlies with more competitive matches and will include promotion and relegation.

The Nations League will also provide another route to qualify for the European Championship, with four places available via play-off games.

Live UEFA Nations League

Speaking to Sky Sports News, O'Neill said: "I think it's good. I think it's probably better for smaller nations like ourselves in the sense of it's very difficult to organise friendlies with the calibre of this.

"It's expensive to try and do it as well. The fact we are in competition now, which has the reward of a promotion-relegation situation. But it also has the route to Euro 2020 as well which is a good thing. We are happy with the format, we look forward to the games.

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Nations League live on Sky

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"The games will prepare us for what lies ahead when the draw is made for Euro 2020."

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O'Neill's squad made it to Euro 2016 but were knocked out by Wales at the round of 16 stage.

Northern Ireland were drawn in League B's Group 3 along with Bosnia & Herzegovina and Austria and O'Neill is aware of the danger the former could cause his squad in Belfast.

UEFA Nations League Preview Show

"It will be a tough game, there is no doubt about that," added O'Neill. "They were unlucky to miss out on a play-off spot for the World Cup finals, like ourselves.

"They lost one game really - it was Cyprus that cost them. They have Miralem Pjanic, who is one of the top midfielders in Europe, and Edin Dzeko, a renowned European striker as well.

"I think they provide a tough, tough game for us with Robert Prosinecki [head coach] coming in for his first competitive game - they will prove a very stiff challenge."

Watch the Nations League live on Sky and get two football channels for one great price. Get Sky Sports Premier League and Sky Sports Football in HD - now £18 a month.

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