Ukraine v Northern Ireland: Conor Washington waiting for the call to join up with hit-man Kyle Lafferty

Ukraine V Northern Ireland: Conor Washington Waiting For The Call To Join Up With Hit-man Kyle Lafferty On the offensive: Conor Washington keen to play his part in attack

Conor Washington is ready to answer the call if Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill selects a much more offensive team against Ukraine tomorrow night. QPR striker Washington, scorer of two international goals in five appearances, was a second half substitute during the defeat to Poland on Sunday night in Nice and made an immediate impact with Northern Ireland’s first real chance of the game.

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The 24-year-old hopes to be selected ahead of Jamie Ward against the Yellow and Blues to form a partnership with lead hitman Kyle Lafferty.

“We got straight back on the training ground after the loss to Poland and now it is up to us to rectify the situation following the defeat and I obviously want to play my part in that – whether it is starting or coming off the bench,” admits Washington, who only came into the Northern Ireland squad in March.

“The gaffer will do his work in terms of analysing Ukraine for us and then he will tell us how he wants us to play and set up. It’s important that we are able to nullify their strengths, which we have been told are the two wingers, and also try and make sure our strengths come out on the night.”

On Sunday, when Washington picked the ball up on the right wing he had a great chance to score his third Northern Ireland goal and an all important equaliser, but the pitch more than Poland goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny won the battle.

“When it came off my head the ball just wouldn’t slow down, it was so quick on the pitch,” added English born Washington.

“I expected to be able to get another touch before it went close to the keeper so that I could either get a shot in or cross. It was really disappointing for me.”

Michael McGovern, meanwhile is adamant the squad must have no regrets following tomorrow’s match in Lyon. The 31-year-old goalkeeper from Enniskillen said: “It was a magnificent achievement to qualify first and foremost and finish top of our group.

But we are not happy to come here and enjoy the experience because you only enjoy it if you achieve things on the pitch.

Ukraine V Northern Ireland: Conor Washington Waiting For The Call To Join Up With Hit-man Kyle Lafferty Belfast Telegraph Sports Editor Steven Beacom’s Euro 2016 diary: Wednesday, June 15 Magilton’s on a tour de France, but it’s definitely not a holiday. If you want to know about France, the man to ask is Jim Magilton. The former Northern Ireland midfielder and current Irish FA Elite Performance director is touring all around the country during Euro 2016. He’s not on Discount Holidays © holiday you understand, but scouting the teams at the tournament for manager Michael O’Neill. Word has it Jim is loving the gig. Support from Stormont is now a Givan. For Northern Ireland s opening Euro 2016 game against Poland, First Minister Arlene Foster was cheering on Michael O Neill s men.

And for the final group match in Paris, when world champions Germany are the opposition, Deputy First Minister Martin McGuiness will be in attendance. Stormont will also be represented tomorrow with Sports Minister Paul Givan in Lyon for the Ukraine match. IFA try to work out if we could benefit from Russian roulette. When Uefa announced that Russia would be thrown out of Euro 2016 if their fans caused further trouble there was much discussion amongst IFA officials. President Jim Shaw (centre) and Chief Executive Patrick Nelson debated with me how any expulsion would impact on other teams/groups in the tournament. And looking ahead what it would mean for Russia hosting the 2018 World Cup finals Tuesday, June 14. World champion boxer Carl Frampton and renowned actor Jimmy Nesbitt were in good company at Northern Ireland’s first ever European Championship match on Sunday. The two Ulstermen may have been disappointed with their country losing 1-0 to Poland, but at least had the consolation of having a chat with former Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson at Stade de Nice. Tuesday, June 14.

Ginola back on the box and fighting fit after heart operation. It was just last month that David Ginola had a quadruple heart bypass operation. The good news is the former Newcastle and Spurs winger has recovered quickly. The 49-year-old is one of the star presenters on French television for Euro 2016. Ratings are high whenever Ginola is on the box and in case you are wondering he is looking as slick as ever. International legends can talk as well as they played the game Gerry Armstrong is well known for his work on Sky Sports. He is here at the Euro 2016 finals as the BBC television’s expert summariser with Neil Lennon in the studio alongside host Gary Lineker. Belfast Telegraph columnist Norman Whiteside will fill that role for ITV with Iain Dowie acting as co-commentator. All can talk for Northern Ireland as well as they played.

Monday, June 13. King Kenny’s special message is well received from biggest fan. Northern Ireland boss Michael O’Neill received many good luck messages from all around the sporting world ahead of the match against Poland. He appreciated them all, though one in particular struck a special chord as it came from his childhood hero Kenny Dalglish. O’Neill was a massive Liverpool fan as a kid and idolised the man he calls ‘King Kenny’. Monday, June 13. Boys in blue are members of the Green and White Army in France. A host of Irish League players past and present were in Nice yesterday to cheer on Northern Ireland against Poland. Former Linfield stars William Murphy (left), Stuart King, Stephen Douglas and current Windsor Park hero Jamie Mulgrew were among those who made the trip.

They will be at all of Northern Ireland’s group games, so it is next stop Lyon for Thursday’s match with Ukraine. Monday, June 13. Glentoran legend Cleary back on big stage as supporter in Nice. No Irish League players made Michael O’Neill’s 23-man panel for the Euro 2016 finals. Linfield’s Paul Smyth and Glenavon’s Joel Cooper, however, are training with the squad. For the 1982 World Cup finals in Spain Billy Bingham took four Irish League aces, one of which was Glentoran great Jim Cleary. He was in Nice last night for the game, looking as if he could still play for his country if called upon! Saturday, June 11. Michael keeps bodyguard on his toes with energetic workouts Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill likes to keep himself fit and healthy and enjoys getting out for a run while on international duty.

He’s a busy man preparing tactics for the upcoming Euro 2016 clash with Poland but wisely still makes time for a jog to clear his head. Security is so tight here in France though that when he has an energetic workout on the roads near the team base he is joined by a bodyguard. Saturday, June 11. Hard to keep track of the trains but always a Nice alternative The train strikes here are playing havoc with Euro 2016 travel plans, both for fans and media. Many of us based in Lyon were due on the 7am train to Nice today, but when that was cancelled alternative arrangements had to be made. Kyle Lafferty’s new wife Vanessa and her parents travelled yesterday to Nice with the BBC and your correspondent got a lift with UTV’S Ruth Gorman this morning. Saturday, June 11. All eyes were on Kyle Lafferty at training yesterday to see if he really was fit enough to play against Poland tomorrow. No problem there.

After injury worries earlier in the week all was fine. He even pretended he was a horse at one stage. “That’s Kyle. He keeps us entertained,” said team-mate Gareth McAuley. Here’s to a thoroughbred display against the Poles. Friday, June 10 Le Journal informed you yesterday that Rory McIlroy is hoping to make it to Northern Ireland’s game with Germany. Another big fan, Carl Frampton (left) is planning to take a short break from preparations for his world title fight against Leo Santa Cruz in July in New York to cheer on Michael O’Neill’s men at the Poland game on Sunday. The Amalgamation of Official Northern Ireland Supporters Clubs want the fans to create a ‘Sea of Green’ in Nice for Sunday’s opening Euro match with Poland. They will distribute 8,000 flags and will organise face painting at the Northern Ireland fans’ Embassy at Brasserie des Ponchettes 3, Place Charles Felix in the Cours Saleya area. Get along, go green and enjoy the fun.

Friday, June 10 Radio 5 Live and Radio Ulster are joining forces for Northern Ireland’s opening Group C clash against Poland in Nice. Joel Taggart will provide commentary for both stations from the stadium with Gerry Taggart acting as summariser. Radio Ulster will then have a post-match fans phone in, hosted by Michael McNamee with special guest John O’Neill, who played in the 1982 and 1986 World Cups. Thursday, June 9 Rory McIlroy is hoping to be in Paris to cheer on Northern Ireland against Germany on June 21. The four-time Major champion was at Windsor Park last October when Michael O’Neill’s men qualified and he would love to join the party in France. McIlroy met all the players in Dublin at a training camp the day after he won the Irish Open, a gesture much appreciated by O’Neill. It’s taken a few days, but finally the security question popped up at a Northern Ireland press conference yesterday. On hand to answer it was Craig Cathcart, who likes to keep a tight defence himself. “The security we’ve had has been fantastic, we haven’t had to wait around anywhere, we get to where we need to be. As long as we’re all safe, that’s all we want.

They’ve done a great job so far,” he said. Some Northern Ireland supporters received surprise calls yesterday from the team hotel. Captain Steven Davis, Aaron Hughes, Josh Magennis and assistant manager Jimmy Nicholl all phoned up fans to thank them for their support and wish them well on their journey to France. Not a bad conversation starter. Here, you ll never guess who rang me last night? Wednesday, June 8 The Northern Ireland team were in grand surroundings last night, eating dinner in the Michelin Star Castle at Chateau de Bagnols in the heart of the vineyards of Beaujolais near Lyon. Apparently the Castle is a favourite spot of Hollywood movie star Tom Cruise, who has also stayed in the team s hotel. Wonder if he thinks it is mission impossible for our boys to get out of their group? Wednesday, June 8 Sylvie Epinat made speeches at Chateau de Bagnols last night.

Mayor Epinat told Northern Ireland boss Michael O Neill and his players that she hoped they would go all the way to the Euro 2016 final and meet hosts France in the decider. On the menu for dinner was Amuse-bouche, salmon and veal. Wednesday, June 8 At the Euro 2016 finals, Uefa have designated a television reporter to follow each team. For Northern Ireland it is former Sky Sports and UTV presenter Graham Little, who once took Kyle Lafferty for a training session back in their native Fermanagh. Northern Ireland based journalist Laure James is Uefa s England reporter and has already enjoyed interviewing captain Wayne Rooney. Tuesday, June 7 The Northern Ireland players had their first training session in France yesterday at the picturesque Saint-Georges-de-Reneins. It s a cracking spot, 40 minutes from Lyon, with a carpet of a pitch and high class facilities. Manager Michael O Neill (right) joked: It s a bit different from Chimney Corner! which was one of his first training bases as a Northern Ireland player.

Tuesday, June 7 It s all in the name as French journalists are already baffled At the Northern Ireland media centre, beside the team s training pitch, a set of images show how all six counties are represented in the squad. In the frame are Steven Davis (Antrim), Luke McCullough (Armagh), Josh Magennis (Down), Stuart Dallas (Tyrone), Michael McGovern (Fermanagh) and Shane Ferguson (Derry/Londonderry). A French journalist asked me why Shane (left) had two counties! Northern Ireland’s captain Steven Davis (L) and coach Michael O’Neill (L) attend a training session while water spray at their training ground in Saint George de Reneins on June 6, 2016 during the Euro 2016 football tournament. / AFP PHOTO / PHILIPPE DESMAZESPHILIPPE DESMAZES/AFP/Getty Images Tuesday, June 7 Tourist Board making sure the media centre is picture perfect The press conference room in the media centre has been paid for by the Northern Ireland Tourist Board. An IFA source said the Association is receiving an estimated 25,000. In and just outside the room are pictures of notable landmarks including the Giant s Causeway and Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge (right). Let s hope Northern Ireland s defence isn t as shaky as that! Monday, June 6 Home from home for O Neill and his team… flags are out already The Northern Ireland players spotted a familiar sight last night on their way to their base for the next few weeks.

Entering the small village of Pizay outside Lyon, where Michael O Neill (right) and his team are staying, was a Northern Ireland flag fluttering in the breeze. Pizay is renowned for its vineyards but wine is off the menu for the players until they reach the knockout stages! Monday, June 6 Magennis is in a sweat as Aaron rouses the troops after milestone To mark his 100th Northern Ireland cap, Aaron Hughes was asked to give a speech in the dressing room in Slovakia on Saturday night. Some players suggested Josh Magennis got so emotional that he was wiping away tears following Aaron s address. Magennis revealed: The boys were thinking I was crying after his speech but it was just sweat. I did give him a hug and a kiss and said congratulations . Monday, June 6 Stuart Dallas is on cloud nine right now. It s like all his Christmases have come at once… and in a way they have.

The Leeds star got married to childhood sweetheart Juneve on Friday and flew into France last night with the Northern Ireland squad for Euro 2016. You could say he is in the honeymoon period of life which bodes well for the matches ahead.

“The fans have come here in good numbers and it was really disappointing the other night not to do ourselves justice in terms of our performance and the result.

“But the Poland game has now been put to bed. As the games are coming thick and fast we haven’t been able to dwell on it. Now we have an opportunity to put things right on Thursday, and that is what we aim to do.”

Ukraine, having lost their opening game to Germany -despite playing very well – are a wounded but dangerous animal. The Northern Ireland players spent last night watching video analysis of the Ukrainians and in Dynamo Kiev winger Andriy Yarmolenko, they have one of the best players at the tournament while on other flank, Sevilla’s Yevhen Konoplyanka will be a real handful.

McGovern, a former Celtic keeper, concedes: “They are big threats. Yarmolekno is the poster boy of their team but they have quality throughout the team. They are strong at the back, they are a big physical team.

“And they have the young lad who plays the No 10 position, Viktor Kovalenko. It is a tough test. Captain Davis having started in an attacking position against Poland is likely to revert into his more familiar central midfield role alongside Ollie Norwood.

McGivern says it is imperative Davis is heavily involved in the Northern Ireland action.

“Steven is our main man, he is our captain and leader. The more times we can get our good players on the ball and the more we can keep it the better. It is not rocket science.”

Ukraine V Northern Ireland: Conor Washington Waiting For The Call To Join Up With Hit-man Kyle Lafferty Andrew Kerr (Articlave), Jonno McCaughan (Coleraine), Roger Woodend (New Jersey, USA) Philip Whyte (42), from South Belfast, and friends stand in front of the Poland team bus Colin Murray poses with fans in France. Mark Hunter (left) from Coleraine who now lives in Vancouver and Matt Livingstone from Coleraine who now lives in London at the Northern Ireland v Poland game on Sunday Ballyclare man Jonny Lindsay with Jimmy Nesbitt. Rob Latimer (34) from Dunadry bumps into James Nesbitt in Nice after Northern Ireland v Poland. Sir Alex Ferguson (centre) in the stands during the UEFA Euro 2016, Group C match at the Stade de Nice, Nice. Jonathan Brady/PA Wire. Pat Jennings (centre) in the stands during the UEFA Euro 2016, Group C match at the Stade de Nice, Nice. Jonathan Brady/PA Wire.

Kate Hoey shows her support in the stands during the UEFA Euro 2016, Group C match at the Stade de Nice, Nice. Jonathan Brady/PA Wire. First Minister Arlene Foster with IFA President Jim Shaw and IFA Chief Executive Patrick Nelson at Poland V Northern Ireland in Nice, France. Photo by Press Eye Northern Ireland’s players pose ahead of the Euro 2016 group C football match between Poland and Northern Ireland at the Allianz Riviera stadium in Nice. / AFP PHOTO / TOBIAS SCHWARZTOBIAS SCHWARZ/AFP/Getty Images Northern Ireland fans during Sundays Euro 2016, Group C match against Poland at the Stade de Nice, France. Michael O’Neill manager of Northern Ireland looks on prior to the UEFA EURO 2016 Group C match between Poland and Northern Ireland at Allianz Riviera Stadium. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images) Northern Ireland fans show their support in the stands before the UEFA Euro 2016, Group C match at the Stade de Nice, Nice. Northern Ireland’s Steven Davis (centre) during the warm-up before the UEFA Euro 2016, Group C match at the Stade de Nice, Nice. Northern Ireland fans during Sundays Euro 2016, Group C match against Poland at the Stade de Nice, France. Northern Ireland fans in the stands during the UEFA Euro 2016, Group C match at the Stade de Nice, Nice. A Northern Ireland fan shows her support in the stands before the UEFA Euro 2016, Group C match at the Stade de Nice, Nice.

Northern Ireland v Poland Euro 2016 Group C Northern Ireland Fans From L-R Graeme Hamilton, Conor Munn, Scott Robinson and Luke McCreery at this afternoons Euro 2016 International at the Allianz stadium in Nice on Sunday. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Northern Ireland v Poland Euro 2016 Group C Northern Ireland Fans Graeme Hamilton, Conor Munn, Scott Robinson and Luke McCreery with Polish fans at this afternoons Euro 2016 International at the Allianz stadium in Nice on Sunday. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Northern Ireland v Poland Euro 2016 Group C Northern Ireland Fans Graeme Hamilton, Conor Munn, Scott Robinson and Luke McCreery get a selfie with Polish Fans at this afternoons Euro 2016 International at the Allianz stadium in Nice on Sunday. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker First Minister Arlene Foster joins Northern Ireland fans in Nice ahead of their opening Euro 2016 game against Poland on Sunday. Northern Ireland v Poland Euro 2016 Group C Northern Ireland Fans David , Stuart and Colin Bell at this afternoons Euro 2016 International at the Allianz stadium in Nice on Sunday. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker First Minister Arlene Foster joins Northern Ireland fans in Nice ahead of their opening Euro 2016 game against Poland on Sunday. First Minister Arlene Foster joins Northern Ireland fans in Nice ahead of their opening Euro 2016 game against Poland on Sunday. First Minister Arlene Foster joins Northern Ireland fans in Nice ahead of their opening Euro 2016 game against Poland on Sunday. Mark Jones and son Jack in Nice with Carl Frampton Carl Frampton with fellow Northern Ireland fan James Tait in Nice Northern Ireland supporter and Groom Stuart Stockman (second left) outside the Ma Nolan’s Irish pub in Nice, France ahead of his team’s opening match against Poland in Euro 2016.

PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday June 11, 2016. See PA story SPORT Euro2016 StagNI. Photo credit should read: Michael McHugh/PA Wire Northern Ireland supporters enjoying the sights of Nice, France ahead of the team’s opening match against Poland in Euro 2016. Northern Ireland fans appear on the balcony of their hotel on the seafront near Promenade des Anglais, Nice, France. PA Northern Ireland fans are joined by a Polish football fan as they arrive on the seafront near Promenade des Anglais, Nice, France. PA Northern Ireland fans appear on the balcony of their hotel on the seafront near Promenade des Anglais, Nice, France. PA Northern Ireland fans appear on the balcony of their hotel on the seafront near Promenade des Anglais, Nice, France. PA Northern Ireland fans arrive on the seafront near Promenade des Anglais, Nice, France.

PA Northern Ireland fans arrive on the beach near Promenade des Anglais, Nice, France. PA Northern Ireland fans Chris Geoghegan and Richard McKnight from Belfast bump into Gary Lineker in France. Philip Wright on tour with the Green and White army. They left on a 6am flight to Nice. Ballymacash Northern Ireland supporter’s club head off to France. Pic: Andrew Clarke David Johnston and fellow Northern Ireland fans head off to France. Crawford McCullough’s ‘mancave’ in Bangor Co Down. Northern Ireland flags flying in France. Picture: Dennis Russell Adam Topping (33) from Scarva Northern Ireland in St Raphael.

He has tickets all the way to the final so will not be home until July 11. A Northern Ireland fan samples some ice cream in Lyon, France. Thursday June 9, 2016. PA Colin Porter passing the time before he heads to Nice. Pic: Gary Porter Home for Bedfordshire based Dave Price and his pals for the next two weeks at least Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland fans on their way to France for Euro 2016. Pic: Gregg Clarke. Northern Ireland fans Eddie McCullough and Ian Thompson pictured at the boulangerie in Georges de Reneins, France ahead of the opening Euro 2016 game against Poland in Lyon on Sunday. Press Eye – Belfast – Northern Ireland – 09th June 2016 – Photo by William Cherry Northern Ireland Fan Ian Thompson from Ballymena travel threw St Georges de Reneines in a camper van, on the way to Nice as N Ireland face Poland in their opening match on Sunday. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Northern Ireland Fans Ian Thompson from Ballymena travel through St Georges de Reneines in a camper van, on the way to Nice as N Ireland face Poland in their opening match on Sunday.

Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Northern Ireland Fans Ian Thompson, George McFall , Russell Bridgett , Darren McDonald and Eddie McCullough from Ballymena travel through St Georges de Reneines in a camper van, on the way to Nice as N Ireland face Poland in their opening match on Sunday. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker A Local meets with Northern Ireland Fans Ian Thompson, George McFall , Russell Bridgett , Darren McDonald and Eddie McCullough from Ballymena travel threw St Georges de Reneines in a camper van, on the way to Nice as N Ireland face Poland in their opening match on Sunday. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland fans on their way to France for Euro 2016. Pic: Gregg Clarke. Northern Ireland Fans Ian Thompson, George McFall , Russell Bridgett , Darren McDonald and Eddie McCullough from Ballymena travel through St Georges de Reneines in a camper van, on the way to Nice as N Ireland face Poland in their opening match on Sunday. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland fans on their way to France for Euro 2016. Pic: Gregg Clarke. Northern Ireland Fan Russell Bridgett from Ballymena travelling through St Georges de Reneines in a camper van, on the way to Nice as N Ireland face Poland in their opening match on Sunday. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Northern Ireland Fans Ian Thompson, George McFall , Russell Bridgett , Darren McDonald and Eddie McCullough from Ballymena travel through St Georges de Reneines in a camper van, on the way to Nice as N Ireland face Poland in their opening match on Sunday.

Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Northern Ireland Fans Ian Thompson, George McFall , Russell Bridgett , Darren McDonald and Eddie McCullough from Ballymena travel through St Georges de Reneines in a camper van, on the way to Nice as N Ireland face Poland in their opening match on Sunday. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Northern Ireland fans Eddie McCullough, George McFall, Ian Thompson and Russell Bridgett pictured in Georges de Reneins, France ahead of their opening Euro 2016 game against Poland on Sunday. Press Eye – Belfast – Northern Ireland – 09th June 2016 – Photo by William Cherry Northern Ireland fans Eddie McCullough, George McFall, Ian Thompson, Darren McDonald and Russell Bridgett pictured in Georges de Reneins, France ahead of their opening Euro 2016 game against Poland on Sunday. Press Eye – Belfast – Northern Ireland – 09th June 2016 – Photo by William Cherry Local family and now Northern Ireland fans pictured in Georges de Reneins, France ahead of the opening Euro 2016 game against Poland in Lyon on Sunday. Press Eye – Belfast – Northern Ireland – 09th June 2016 – Photo by William Cherry The boulangerie in Georges de Reneins, France with its window decorated ahead of the opening Euro 2016 game against Poland in Lyon on Sunday. Press Eye – Belfast – Northern Ireland – 09th June 2016 – Photo by William Cherry Northern Ireland fans Eddie McCullough, George McFall, Ian Thompson and Russell Bridgett pictured in Georges de Reneins, France ahead of their opening Euro 2016 game against Poland on Sunday. Press Eye – Belfast – Northern Ireland – 09th June 2016 – Photo by William Cherry Northern Ireland fans Eddie McCullough, George McFall, Ian Thompson, Darren McDonald and Russell Bridgett pictured in Georges de Reneins, France ahead of their opening Euro 2016 game against Poland on Sunday. Press Eye – Belfast – Northern Ireland – 09th June 2016 – Photo by William Cherry Local family and now Northern Ireland fans pictured in Georges de Reneins, France ahead of the opening Euro 2016 game against Poland in Lyon on Sunday. Press Eye – Belfast – Northern Ireland – 09th June 2016 – Photo by William Cherry Northern Ireland Fans Ian Thompson, George McFall , Russell Bridgett , Darren McDonald and Eddie McCullough from Ballymena travel through St Georges de Reneines in a camper van, on the way to Nice as N Ireland face Poland in their opening match on Sunday.

Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Northern Ireland FanRussell Bridgett from Ballymena travel through St Georges de Reneines in a camper van, on the way to Nice as N Ireland face Poland in their opening match on Sunday.

Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

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