Michael O'Neill says current Northern Ireland squad is amongst their best ever
Last Updated: 03/09/17 4:41pm
Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill believes the current international squad should be viewed as amongst the country's greatest ever.
Northern Ireland need only a point from their World Cup qualifier against Czech Republic at Windsor Park on Monday to confirm second place in Group C, earning them a position in the play-offs.
O'Neill's side - who are hoping to become only Northern Ireland's fourth team to reach the World Cup finals - beat San Marino 3-0 on Friday, which enhances their claims of reaching back-to-back major tournaments after getting to the knockout stages at Euro 2016.
It is a feat the Northern Irish boss believes should grant them the status of being amongst the nation's best ever players.
"My real satisfaction in all of this is for our players, particularly those close to 100 caps, to get the opportunity to go to a World Cup. It's phenomenal, particularly off the back of the Euros," O'Neill said.
"We'll talk about the great players and who's Northern Ireland's greatest player but when you view players based on their international careers, you'll find some players in our squad will have international careers that will rank up with the best ever players that have played for Northern Ireland."
Despite the team being on the brink of moving a step closer to qualification, O'Neill is remaining grounded with a play-off encounter potentially on the horizon.
"We have to be realistic, we've nothing to celebrate just yet," he stressed.
"We have to play a play-off game, there's a lot more football to be played. If we do get second place it's a fantastic achievement, but it doesn't guarantee us a place in Russia, the players know that and I know that."
Northern Ireland - now ranked 23rd in the world rankings - host Czech Republic on Monday evening, live on Sky Sports Mix.