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Preview: Faroe Islands vs. Northern Ireland

Sports Mole previews Northern Ireland's trip to the Faroe Islands in Euro 2016 qualifying.

Northern Ireland continue their Euro 2016 qualifying campaign on Friday when they make the trip to the Faroe Islands in Group F.

Michael O'Neill's side currently sit in second place in the table and can take a big step towards the tournament if they win away from home.

Faroe Islands

Faroe Island's Joan Edmundsson celebrates with his teammates after scoring a goal during the UEFA Euro 2016 group F qualifying football match between Greece and Faroe Island at the Karaiskaki stadium in Piraeus, near Athens, on November 14, 2014© Getty Images

Despite languishing in fourth place in the Group F standings, the Faroe Islands are still in with an outside chance of qualifying for Euro 2016.

The minnows currently have six points to their name thanks to home and away wins over former European champions Greece.

However, Lars Olsen's men have mostly struggled during qualifying so far, losing all four of their other matches in the group.

The team has found life difficult at both ends of the pitch since the start of the qualification process, scoring just four times and conceding eight goals.

For a country ranked 75th in the world, it is no surprise to learn that the Faroe Islands have never made it all the way to a major tournament, but a triumph on Friday could put them right back in the mix.

Recent form: LLLWLW
Recent form (all competitions): LLLWLW

Northern Ireland

Kyle Lafferty of Northern Ireland scores during the EURO 2016 Group F qualifier at Windsor Park on March 29, 2015© Getty Images

Northern Ireland can give their chances of reaching Euro 2016 a huge boost on Friday if they leave the Faroe Islands with a victory.

The Irish occupy second position in the Group F standings, two points behind leaders Romania and two points clear of third-placed Hungary.

Michael O'Neill's men started their qualification campaign with three consecutive wins, but four points from a possible nine since then have seen their hopes hit a stumbling block.

Ireland earned a 2-0 triumph over the Faroe Islands when the sides met at Windsor Park in October, with Gareth McAuley and Kyle Lafferty getting on the scoresheet.

Lafferty has scored five goals during qualifying so far, the same number as the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Northern Ireland boast the best attack in Group F with eight goals to their name. At the other end of the pitch they have conceded four times and kept three clean sheets in six outings.

Recent form: WWWLWD
Recent form (all competitions): WLLWDD

Team News

Chris Brunt in action for West Brom on January 10, 2015© Getty Images

Alan Mannus and Lee Hodson have been recalled to the Northern Ireland squad after missing the team's 0-0 draw with Romania last time out.

However, Trevor Carson, Daniel Lafferty and Luke McCullough all miss out.

Jamie Ward remains an injury doubt due to a hamstring problem, while Kyle Lafferty and Chris Brunt could also be absent due to fitness concerns.

Faroe Islands possible starting lineup:
Nielsen; Hansen, Gregersen, Nattestad, Sorensen; Holst, Hansson, Benjaminsen, Hendriksson, Vatnhamar; Edmundsson

Northern Ireland possible starting lineup:
McGovern; McLaughlin, Evans, McAuley, Baird; Davis, Brunt, Dallas, Reeves; Lafferty, Grigg

Head To Head

Northern Ireland have failed to lose any of their previous five encounters with the Faroe Islands. The Irish have won on three occasions, while the other two meetings have ended all square. October's 2-0 win in Belfast was preceded by a 4-0 triumph three years earlier.

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We say: Faroe Islands 0-2 Northern Ireland

Despite enjoying an impressive qualification campaign so far, the pressure will be on Northern Ireland to get a result on Friday. The visitors have seen their form drop off as of late, failing to win any of their last three games. That said, they have the quality to go out and beat the Faroe Islands, putting them closer to what would be a first appearance at a European Championship.

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Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill on the touchline during the World Cup qualifier against Portugal on September 6, 2013
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