Stephen Craigan is hoping Northern Ireland can start their Euro 2012 qualifying campaign on a positive note.
The quest to reach Ukraine and Poland starts on Friday away to Slovenia, who claimed a place in the World Cup finals via the play-offs after finishing runners-up in Northern Ireland's qualifying group.
Northern Ireland had enjoyed a solid performance in the qualifiers for the World Cup before taking fourth spot in a competitive group.
Motherwell defender Craigan feels slow starts have cost the national team in the past and is eyeing an early boost in Slovenia.
Craigan said: "We have started the last few campaigns badly, but seem to gather momentum halfway through.
"But if we could begin well and carry it on, we would give ourselves a better chance.
"It is tough as Slovenia will be buoyed by qualifying for the World Cup and will have momentum when we play them.
"They are a slick side and for us to get result we need 11 men and the substitutes doing well and be on the ball."
Nigel Worthington has included rookies like Johnny Gorman and Corry Evans in his squad, and Craigan is pleased to see the youngsters being given a chance.
"We have always had two or three young players coming through every year, " he said.
"In our country's situation you should get them in to train with the senior squad to see if they can handle it.
"Johnny Gorman has shown he can, he looks as though he has been there all his days. It is important to get them in to give them a proper chance.
"The manager is here to win games though. There is no point bringing in six Under 21s and losing every game, but he will know when the time is right."