Sheffield United: Oliver Norwood is told he can make the difference for his country

Sheffield United's Oliver Norwood
Sheffield United's Oliver Norwood

Oliver Norwood has been told he could hold the key to Northern Ireland's hopes of beating Austria later this week.

The 27-year-old, who joined Sheffield United on a loan to buy arrangement last month, has been named in Michael O'Neill's squad for Friday's UEFA Nations League match in Vienna and the trip to Bosnia-Herzegovina four days later.

With Northern Ireland still searching for their first points in League B Group Three, Gerry Armstrong, their former centre-forward, believes the performance of Norwood and his fellow midfielders will be pivotal to visitors' chances. Particularly if O'Neill persists with his policy of playing with a lone striker in attack.

"If Michael is only going to go with one striker, which I think he will, then it's between Kyle (Lafferty) and Josh (Magennis)," Armstrong said. "Whoever plays will need help from midfield though."

Norwood and his team mates produced a dominant performance against Bosnia in the opening round before somehow conspiring to lose 2-1. United's Conor Washington was an unused subtitute during that match at Windsor Park but has been granted permission to miss Northern Ireland's next two outings due to personal reasons.

"I've never seen Northern Ireland play so well and not win the game," Armstrong said. "You can't afford to create so many opportunities at this level, against a team of the quality of Bosnia, and not take them or you will be punished, as we witnessed."