Northern Ireland’s Brodie Spencer in action against Nikolas Panayiotou during the 2-2 Nations League draw against Cyprus in Belfast

Former Northern Ireland striker Gerry Armstrong says manager Ian Baraclough should be given time “to develop players and show the team’s true potential” after a disappointing start to the Nations League campaign.

Northern Ireland have just two points from their first four fixtures.


It has left Baraclough’s position under threat, but Armstrong said: “I think we have good days coming ahead.

“We’ve got young players being developed and that’s key.”

Baraclough, 51, came in for criticism from a section of the Northern Ireland support during June’s Nations League League C Group 2 games, which yielded two draws and two defeats against three teams ranked lower in the Fifa rankings.

A 1-0 home loss to Greece was followed by a 0-0 draw in Cyprus, a 3-2 reverse in Kosovo and 2-2 draw with Cyprus in Belfast.

Northern Ireland’s remaining fixtures in the competition are at home to Kosovo on 24 September and in Greece on 27 September.

“For me, you have to give Ian time. Give him to the end of the tournament and then you can judge him then,” Armstrong told BBC Radio Ulster’s Sportsound Extra Time programme.

“I was disappointed with some of the performances and he would have been as well. We need to see more than that and you have to keep moving forward.

“We expected more than that when facing that type of opposition but I hope the results turn round.

“We have to learn from the mistakes we got punished for. We need to go and win our next game and when the competition is over then we can reflect.”

‘We have a lot more to give’

Baraclough fielded a number of young players during the games and the 68-year-old Armstrong, who famously scored his country’s winning goal against Spain at the 1982 World Cup, believes they must be given an opportunity to find their feet.

“It’s difficult for players at the end of a long season, especially ones who don’t have experience, but then you don’t get experience unless you play,” added the 63-cap former Tottenham and Watford forward.

“It took me seven or eight internationals to find out what it was all about and then to make progress.

“Players need to recharge their batteries over the summer with their clubs and we need to be positive and have belief for the future.

“There are some fantastic players and some great young talent in the squad.

“I feel we haven’t shown our true potential. We have a lot more to give.”