His side are in Group F with Portugal, Russia, Israel, Azerbaijan and Luxembourg.
"It looks reasonably tough, but it could have been worse. There is a fair bit of travelling but you have to deal with that," he said.
"Russia have been a fantastic team for years, Israel are a tough nut to crack and we know the stars Portugal have."
The former Blackpool, Norwich City and Leicester City manager expects his side to beat Luxembourg and Azerbaijan in order to have any chance in the group.
"We will look at the home and away games against Luxembourg and Azerbaijan as ones we can take maximum points from. It is never easy until you have actually achieved that," he said.
"Then it is a matter of taking as many as you can from the other three teams in the group."
Northern Ireland's last World Cup qualification was for the 1986 finals in Mexico.