Sheffield United: Oliver Norwood and Co receive support from a European great
The international break might not have gone quite as Oliver Norwood would have wished, with Northern Ireland losing both their Nations League games.
But the Sheffield United midfielder, who returns to Bramall Lane tomorrow, can at least console himself with the fact one of the finest footballers of his generation thinks the 27-year-old is part of a "brilliant team."
Robert Prosinecki, previously of Red Star Belgrade and Real Madrid, lavished praise on Norwood and his colleagues in Michael O'Neill's squad following their 2-0 defeat by Bosnia-Herzegovina earlier this week.
Although the result left O'Neill bemoaning his lack of a striker - United's Conor Washington missed both the visit to Sarajevo and Friday's meeting with Austria due to personal reasons - Prosinecki, the Bosnian's head coach, said: "We expected a very hard match, we were facing Northern Ireland who are a brilliant team and they have shown their quality. They can play with anyone at any level."
Both Norwood and Washington are expected to feature when United return to action against Derby County on Saturday evening, with the latter's situation not ruling him out of Championship games.
O'Neill's comments, after Northern Ireland missed a series of chances in their latest League 3 Group B tie, should equip Washington with even greater incentive to perform after helping United seize control of the race for Premier League football.
With Rangers' Kyle Lafferty in hot water with O'Neill, performing well for Chris Wilder's side would leave him in pole position to start next month's meetings with the Republic of Ireland and Austria.
"I think if you look at ourselves, the Republic of Ireland and Scotland, we're all in search of that player who can unlock the game for you and with experience at international level," O'Neill said. "We can't buy one. He has to come from Northern Ireland or have a blood line to Northern Ireland so we have to persevere."