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Euro 2016 profile: Northern Ireland could struggle in Group C

Northern Ireland must contest Germany, Poland and Ukraine in France.

We profile Northern Ireland, who have qualified for Euro 2016 some 30 years after their last major tournament, but Group C struggles appear on the cards.

We’re profiling all 24 teams at the Euro 2016 finals in France, so punters are in the know when it comes to the sides on show this summer.

Next up are Northern Ireland, a nation who made history by reaching their first European Championship finals under manager Michael O’Neill, emerging from qualifying Group F, but they could face a truly tough task at the tournament against Group C opponents Germany, Poland and Ukraine.

The Green and White Army have already achieved a great feat in making it to the event, and they are a best-priced odds-on 5/11 with 888Sport to exit at the group stage, while a more promising 5/2 from BetVictor is available on a possible last 16 dismissal.

History at the Euros: As previously stated, this will be Northern Ireland’s maiden appearance at the Euro finals, having only ever made it to the 1958 and 1982 World Cups beforehand.

In the 1958 event in Sweden, they managed to reach the quarter-finals, where they lost to France. Despite boasting legendary Manchester United attacker George Best in their ranks for most of the 1960s-70s, Northern Ireland were unable to reach a European Championship, proving the distinction of the current crop’s heroics.

Head coach: Boss O’Neill, not to be confused with former Northern Ireland skipper and present Republic of Ireland coach Martin, featured for the likes of Newcastle United and Wigan Athletic during his playing days, as well as 31 international caps.

The 46-year-old first took charge of Scottish club Brechin City in 2006, then managed Shamrock Rovers for three successful years, helping them become the first League of Ireland side to reach the group stage of European competition.

Key player: Kyle Lafferty was key to his country’s qualification, bagging an impressive seven goals to see Northern Ireland end atop Group F. The Norwich City forward’s strikes have made him the nation’s second-highest ever scorer behind former strike partner David Healy.

Rising star: Man Utd youngster Paddy McNair has a bright future ahead of him at Old Trafford, having enjoyed plenty of playing time under Louis van Gaal and, after featuring in qualifying, he is set for a promising tournament.

Wildcard: Watch our for Leeds United midfielder Stuart Dallas in France, with the attacker ready for what could be an enjoyable campaign after starring in the Championship.

Confirmed Northern Ireland Euro 2016 fixtures

All kick-offs are British Summer Time (BST)

Sunday, June 12: Group C, Poland v Northern Ireland (17:00); Allianz Riviera, Nice, BBC

Thursday, June 18: Group C, Ukraine v Northern Ireland (14:00); Stade des Lumieres, Lyon, ITV

Tuesday, June 21: Group C, Northern Ireland v Germany (17:00); Parc des Princes, Paris, BBC

All odds were correct at time of posting.

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