GLYNN SNODIN is backing Huddersfield Town star Oliver Norwood to collect his first win in a Northern Ireland shirt in tonight’s key World Cup qualifier against Azerbaijan in Belfast.
The former Manchester United midfielder hopes to earn his 10th cap, and fourth since moving to the John Smith’s Stadium, against the Eastern Europeans at Windsor Park.
Norwood was a stand-out performer in last month’s hugely encouraging 1-1 draw in Portugal, when he came away with Cristiano Ronaldo’s shirt as a memento.
The 21-year-old has yet to taste a full international victory – but former Northern Ireland and current Town coach Snodin says that could well change tonight.
“It’s a game in hand for the lads, and they know a win would keep them on the coat tails of Portugal (third in Group F) and Israel (second),” he said.
“It’s unusual in the sense that Northern Ireland are normally the underdogs, but particularly after the Portugal result, they will be expected to win tonight.
“That adds an element of pressure and there’s no room for complacency, but with the crowd behind them, they should have too much for Azerbaijan.”
Snodin is keeping his fingers crossed that both Norwood and Paul Dixon, who is with Scotland for their friendly in Luxembourg tonight, return fully fit.
The pair are due back in Huddersfield tomorrow as sixth-placed Town continue preparations for Saturday’s home Championship clash with Brighton.
But Snodin believes the benefits gained from top-level involvement outweigh the risk of picking up an injury.
“It’s great for the club and great for the players, because as a youngster, you always dream of getting an international call,” he explained.
“Being in an international environment and pitting yourself against top players provides a great chance to learn, and hopefully our lads will be soaking everything up.”
Norwood has made 14 starts and one appearance from the bench for Town and Snodin added: “Ollie has undoubted quality and is a top set-piece player.”