'Don't hold back'

Ulstermen must attack Luxembourg and grab crucial win, says Steve

Lafferty: FC Sion striker led Northern Ireland's line in Moscow

Steve Lomas says Northern Ireland must play a more offensive brand of football when they take on Luxembourg in Tuesday's World Cup qualifier.

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"Kyle will be key to how we do in this campaign and I thought he showed good leadership against Russia."

Steve Lomas

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The UIstermen were conquered 2-0 by Russia in their first Group F contest on Friday afternoon with manager Michael O'Neill, overseeing his first competitive international, adopting a 4-5-1 system.

But with O'Neill's men facing one of the group minnows at Windsor Park next week, former Northern Ireland star Lomas has called for a more dynamic approach.

"Coming away against the likes of Russia you have to play with a bit more caution," the St Johnstone manager told Sky Sports. "But I think at home Michael (O'Neill) will be a bit more attack-minded

"He knows that games against the likes of Luxembourg, Israel and Azerbaijan are when you have to get the three points. Israel will be tough away from home, but third spot in this group (which also features Portugal) is up for grabs."


On Kyle Lafferty, who ploughed a lone furrow up front for Northern Ireland inside Moscow's Lokomotiv Stadium, Lomas added: "It is a very tough job playing up front on your own but he was the standout. He worked hard and put himself about.

"He probably didn't get as much support as he would have liked but that was probably due the formation and personnel Michael went with. Kyle will be key to how we do in this campaign and I thought he showed good leadership against Russia; we are going to need that."

Russia - who impressed many with their slick football at Euro 2012, before surprisingly being dumped out in the group stage - are now being coached by former England boss Fabio Capello.

The nation have failed to reach the previous two World Cups in South Africa and Germany, but Lomas says that with their array of talented attacking players, Russia have an excellent chance of topping their qualification pool this time around.

"Russia were the better team against Northern Ireland and they deserved the win," added the former midfielder, who captured 45 international caps. "Aleksandr Kerzhakov and Alan Dzagoev were very good up front with their movement; there was great fluidity in their game and great patience.

"Russia could afford to leave out Andrei Arshavin and Roman Pavlyuchenko and they will be tough to beat at home, but I think (this group) will come down to the key battles between them and Portugal."