Ian Baraclough says Northern Ireland have ‘refocused’ for upcoming Nations League games

Ian Baraclough has no new injury concerns ahead of the Nations League games against Romania and Norway – live on Sky Sports – as he prepares to lead Northern Ireland for the first time since becoming boss in June.

Sunderland defender Tom Flanagan withdrew from the 26-man squad last Thursday as his wife is due to give birth in the coming days and has been replaced by Arsenal’s Dan Ballard.

Oxford winger Joel Cooper, who received his first call-up into the senior squad, suffered a head injury while playing for his club side but has shown no ill effects in training.

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“One or two we have to be careful with because they are only two weeks into their pre-season really,” Baraclough said.

“And one or two haven’t trained as much as they would have liked as well so we are having to taper the time a little bit. [But] all good. First session yesterday was lively. [I’m] very pleased.

“It’s a long time, 10 months, since we last got together. It was important we had a meeting yesterday to re-focus. Having been out of it for 10 months you can kinda forget where you are with everything that has been going on in the world.

It’s a long time, 10 months, since we last got together. It was important we had a meeting yesterday to re-focus.

Ian Baraclough

“It was just a little chat among the whole group, staff as well, to re-focus on our goals for the next 18 months. I’m looking forward to it.”

Speaking about his first game in charge against Romania in Bucharest on Friday, Baraclough added: “Over the next few days we will complete the preparations and I’m looking forward to seeing how we perform.”

Following the Nations League games against Romania and Norway (at Windsor Park on September 7), Northern Ireland face Bosnia and Herzegovina in their crunch European Championship qualifying play-off semi-final in October.

How to watch Nations League on Sky Sports

You will be able to watch all 162 Nations League matches live on Sky Sports – plus the semi-finals, third-place play-off and final. Games will be shown across our main channels and via the red button.

Our coverage kicks off on Thursday, with Finland v Wales live on Sky Sports Main Event and Bulgaria v Republic of Ireland on Sky Sports Football. Wales v Bulgaria and Republic of Ireland v Finland on Monday will be shown on both Sky Sports Main Event and Sky Sports Football.

Scotland’s opener against Israel on Friday is on Sky Sports Main Event on Friday, along with Romania v Northern Ireland on Sky Sports Football. Czech Republic v Scotland and Northern Ireland v Norway will be shown on Tuesday.

You can watch Iceland v England on Sky Sports Main Event and Football on Sunday, and Denmark v England on the same channels on Wednesday.

For a full rundown of Nations League fixtures and where to watch them on Sky Sports head to our fixture page.

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