LEEDS UNITED winger Stuart Dallas has acknowledged that Northern Ireland’s Euro 2016 qualifying fate lies in their own hands – and now they are ready to deliver.
Michael O’Neill’s side need two points from remaining games against Greece and Finland to book their place in France next summer.
One victory – or two draws – and the dream will finally be realised by Dallas and his teammates, who continue to sit top of Group F following a stellar campaign to date.
Their first bite at the cherry comes on Thursday night at Windsor Park when Greece are the visitors to south Belfast.
The Greeks currently sit bottom of Group F, but last month’s spirited draw against Romania in Bucharest showed they are not ready to throw the towel in just yet.
Hungary provide the chief threat to Northern Ireland’s Euro ambitions – they sit third in the group and need two victories from their final two games to stand any chance of snatching an automatic qualifying spot.
“Two draws or one win does us,” Dallas said.
“We know as a group of players what it will take to get us to France and that’s what we’re focused on.
“At the same time, Hungary know they need to get maximum points from their two remaining games, which is no easy task.
“Having said that, we can’t worry about what Hungary do in their games. All we can do is look after ourselves and focus on Greece.”
Despite having Kyle Lafferty, Chris Baird and Conor McLaughlin suspended for the Greece game – and doubts over the fitness of Jonny Evans – Dallas believes Northern Ireland have the players capable of completing their Euro mission on Thursday night.
The winger, signed by Leeds from Brentford for £1.3m in the summer, added: “We have players suspended for the Greece game, but the confidence and belief is there that we can put in a big performance.
“We have players in this squad who are more than capable of stepping up to the plate. Michael has shown great faith in his whole squad and that’s what it’s about in international football.
“It’s not always about the starting XI, it’s about the squad. The players who come in, you can be sure they’ll be ready to do a job.
“We are still top of the group. We would have settled for this scenario before the campaign.
“Even before the last double-header, if you had offered us four points going into the Faroes and Hungary games, we would have taken it.
“Obviously, we set out to win the game against Hungary, but if you can’t take the three points it’s important you don’t get beat. We deserved the point against Hungary and thankfully Kyle was able to get score at the end.”