O'Neill backing for Shiels
Northern Ireland forward set to start against Luxembourg
Last Updated: September 11, 2012 8:56am
Dean Shiels: Northern Ireland forward is expected to start against Luxembourg
Michael O'Neill is confident Dean Shiels can be a threat as the forward searches for his first goal for Northern Ireland against Luxembourg.
Rangers attacker Shiels has yet to score in 12 appearances for his country and was restricted to a substitute's role in Friday's 2-0 defeat in Russia.
However, he is expected to be restored to the starting line-up for Tuesday's home date with Luxembourg and O'Neill is not troubled by Shiels' lack of goals at international level.
"Looking at the personnel, there's a number of players that the Russia game didn't suit from a tactical point of view but a home game would," said the Northern Ireland coach.
"Obviously Dean comes into the equation. I think Dean Shiels is a goal threat. He still has to get off the mark at international level but in many ways his career at this level is only really kicking off at this moment in time.
"If you see him in training you see his quality in general play but also in front of goal. He scored 15 for Kilmarnock last season in the SPL from midfield."
Another player vying for a return to the starting line-up is Newcastle's Shane Ferguson, who missed the opening World Cup qualifier in Moscow with a groin problem.
O'Neill added: "His return is important for us. Shane is a young player so you don't want to load too much responsibility or expectation on him at this minute in time, but certainly in the games he's played since I took over he's been a real positive.
"He looks very bright and sharp in training but he had a poor pre-season which was interrupted due to injury. That is why we left him with his club to get up to speed for this game.
"It's great to have him back in, he's always going to give us something whether he starts the game or comes from the bench."