Date: 8th October 2015 at 6:30am
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Northern Ireland’s hopes of qualifying for their first ever European Championship will be made a reality if they beat Greece at Windsor Park on Thursday.

Their opponents won the Euros back in 2004, yet now they are bottom of Group F and are unable to qualify for the finals in France next summer, following a disappointing qualifying campaign.

Michael O’Neill’s men have won five of their eight matches and grabbed an important last minute equaliser against Hungary last time out.

14th August 2013 - FIFA 2014 World Cup Qualifying (Group F) - Northern Ireland v Russia - Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill - Photo: Simon Stacpoole / Offside.

Michael O’Neill

Sitting a point above Romania and four above third-placed Hungary, the Group F leaders are unbeaten at Windsor Park, winning and drawing two.

Greece’s Under-21 manager Kostas Tsanas is currently interim boss following the sacking of Uruguayan Sergio Markarian back in August.

The visitors have had a very poor campaign, which includes four straight losses at home without scoring a single goal.

Their away form is slightly more encouraging though with three draws and a loss on the road, including a 0-0 stalemate in Romania last time out.

The home side will be without top goalscorer Kyle Lafferty due to suspension. The Norwich City striker has already notched seven goals in this qualifying campaign that has made him both a national treasure and a key man in the hunt to make the finals.

Derby’s Chris Baird and Fleetwood’s Conor McLaughlin are also serving suspension, whilst West Brom centre-back Jonny Evans has also ruled himself out after struggling for fitness with a hamstring injury.

Aberdeen’s Josh Magennis may step in for Lafferty with Manchester United’s Paddy McNair and Watford’s Craig Cathcart both likely to slot into the defence.

Greece will be without defenders Kostas Manolas and Kyriakos Papadopolous. Manolas is suspended and Papadopoulous is out via injury.

Benfica striker Kostas Mitroglou is likely to spearhead the attack for the visitors with experienced right-back Vasillis Torosidis set to captain the side.

The hosts will be aiming to emulate their 2-0 victory, when the sides met last October in Piraeus with goals from Lafferty and Jamie Ward.

Group F Standings: Northern Ireland – 1st, 17pts; Greece – 6th, 3pts
Last Meeting: Greece 0-2 Northern Ireland (October 14, 2014)
Form: Northern Ireland- LDWDWD; Greece- LDLDLD
Key Men: Northern Ireland- Steven Davis; Greece- Sokratis Papastathopoulos
Shoot Says: Northern Ireland 1-0 Greece

 
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