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Northern Ireland faces “wounded animal” Bulgaria – Baraclough

Paddy McNair is close for Northern Ireland in the draw against Bulgaria earlier this year

Cover: Follow live commentary on BBC Radio Ulster and text updates online. Highlights on BBC Two NI at 11:05 pm BST

Northern Ireland coach Ian Baraclough believes Bulgaria will be desperate to recover in World Cup qualifiers after the shocking loss to Lithuania.

NI had a 4-1 win over Lithuania earlier in the season, but the Group C side beat Bulgaria 3-1 on Saturday.

Third place is the realistic goal for both Bulgaria and NI.

“You come into this game like a wounded animal and so will be eager to get a win,” said Baraclough.

The teams have five points and it is a crucial game to secure third place and better placement for future tournaments.

“Bulgaria are a young team and they are trying to develop as a team. They have had some really good results before in the group and want to get back on track,” he added.

“It won’t be much more difficult than Germany and the Netherlands (qualifying for Euro 2020) and then now Italy and Switzerland. They were the two seeds in pot two and it will always be a tough question.

Ian Baraclough was named Northern Ireland Manager last JuneIan Baraclough was named Northern Ireland Manager last June

“They hope that the next time you get into a position where the leaderboard is a little cheaper, you will get a cheaper draw, even though there are no easy games and even if you do get that cheap draw, you still have to companies take care of that. “

Northern Ireland suffered a goalless draw with Bulgaria in Belfast in March and are expected to be another close encounter on Tuesday night.

Baraclough’s side have had three wins in their last five away games lately – as many wins as they had in their last 17 away internationals.

Northern Ireland is also looking for a positive response after the controversial 2-0 defeat against Switzerland on Saturday created six points behind second place and the chance of qualifying for the finals in Qatar.

Baraclough said the decision to dismiss Jamal Lewis – his second yellow card after 37 minutes for wasting time – was “diabolical” but told his players it was time to move on and focus on beating Bulgaria .

“You have to keep that in mind,” he said. “Yes, we didn’t make the decision we wanted and we felt hard to come through it, but this is a new game, a different referee, a different country and we take each game for itself.”

As expected, Baraclough confirmed Jonny Evans hadn’t joined the squad prior to the game, saying an illness had handicapped the Leicester defender in addition to his longstanding foot injury.

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