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International Match

Windsor Park (ATT 10,500) 29th February 2012 - Kick off 19:45

N Ireland Northern Ireland vs Norway Norway

ft

Norway 3

H Nordtveit (44)
T Elyounoussi (87)
E Ruud (90+3)

N Ireland v Norway preview

Watch the match live on Sky Sports HD3 from 7.30pm

By Razwan Mirza.   Last Updated: 29/02/12 12:52pm

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Michael O'Neill will aim to begin his reign as Northern Ireland manager with a win as they welcome Norway to Windsor Park.

The hosts will be hoping to end their four-game losing streak against the team ranked 24th in the world and O'Neill takes charge of his country for the first time, with a new captain in the shape of Rangers midfielder Steven Davis.

The former Shamrock Rovers boss confirmed Davis would lead the side for the foreseeable future, despite former skipper Aaron Hughes' decision to reverse his retirement and return to the squad after less than six months.

Northern Ireland will be hoping to make Windsor Park a fortress once again following a largely disappointing Euro 2012 campaign under former manager Nigel Worthington which saw the Green and White Army finish five points ahead of the Faroe Islands and 17 points behind Group C winners Italy.

Energetic

With resources limited on and off the field, not to mention a World Cup qualifying group containing both Portugal and Russia, O'Neill wants expectations to be realistic and has appealed for patience from supporters.

He said: "An energetic and positive performance from the lads can hopefully transmit into a positive atmosphere (in the stands).

"It's no secret the last campaign finished on a disappointing note. The players know that, everyone knows that, but that unrealistic weight of expectancy is something the players have maybe struggled to deal with in the past."

Kyle Lafferty and Chris Brunt have been on the sidelines with long-term injuries, while Blackpool defender Craig Cathcart (hamstring) and Plymouth striker Warren Feeney (calf) withdrew from the original 24-man party.

Of the 22 players on duty in Belfast, Derby forward Jamie Ward is a doubt for the match after complaining of a tight thigh muscle.

Form

Norway failed to qualify for Euro 2012 despite finishing level on points with second-placed Portugal in Group H.

And the Scandinavians will be aiming to build on their indifferent recent form, having won three of their last five international friendlies.

Celtic defender Thomas Rogne will win his first cap for Norway after captain Brede Hangeland was ruled out with a thigh injury.

Rogne had been promised some involvement in the match by head coach Egil Olsen and has now been drafted into the starting XI after Fulham centre-half Brede Hangeland dropped out.

Rogne is one of four British-based players set to start at Windsor Park, with Hangeland's Cottagers team-mate John Arne-Riise in the side alongside Blackburn's Morten Gamst Pedersen and Erik Huseklepp, who is on loan at Birmingham from Portsmouth.

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