Northern Ireland welcome Kosovo to Windsor Park, Belfast, in a must-win UEFA Nations League C2 clash.
Victory would see Northern Ireland stay third in the group with survival in their own hands heading into the final round of group matches.
Kosovo meanwhile will guarantee second in the group with a win.
Northern Ireland will be without striker, Kyle Lafferty after he withdrew from the squad with a back injury amidst an investigation by Kilmarnock into use of sectarian language in an online video.
Kosovo will be without Mergim Vojvoda, Leart Paqarada and Shkelqim due to injury, whilst Uran Bislimi has refused to join up with the squad.
- Northern Ireland lost their only previous meeting against Kosovo (L1), which came in a 3-2 away defeat in the reverse fixture in June.
- Kosovo are visiting Northern Ireland for the first time in all competitions.
- Northern Ireland have failed to keep a clean sheet in their four matches so far in the group (D2, L2).
- Both of Kosovo’s two away matches in the group have finished in 2-0 results – of which they won by that scoreline against Cyprus but suffered defeat in Greece.
- Northern Ireland are still yet to win a single Nations League match (D4, 10).
With no wins in 14 matches and a relegation to boot in this competition, Northern Ireland just haven’t taken to the Nations League but now is the time when they must step up as they face a second consecutive relegation.
Ian Baraclough’s Norn Iron though seem to have found their scoring boots in their last two matches but defending has still been their weakness, so a disciplined attacking display is required here to put survival in their own hands ahead of a tricky trip to Greece in their final group match.
Kosovo meanwhile are safe in second with nothing to play for which will enable them to play with freedom here, which has to be a concern for Northern Ireland if they’re seriously up for the win despite it not being of any importance.
This match is therefore absolutely vital for Northern Ireland because they need their home fans to step up as the 12th man and push them on to a maiden Nations League win, as the first goal will be key and I do worry for them if Kosovo score first.
Prediction: Northern Ireland 2-1 Kosovo
Result: Northern Ireland 2-1 Kosovo