Costa Rica Sports – Michael O’Neill could give more opportunities to young players when Northern Ireland face Costa Rica in a friendly in San Jose on Sunday (kick-off 6pm BST).
A number of first-team regulars are missing from the squad, leading to O’Neill giving three players their international debuts in a 0-0 draw against Panama in the week.
Four U21 internationals – Paul Smyth, Bailey Peacock-Farrell, Jordan Thompson and Shayne Lavery – also featured in the second half of the match in Panama City.
“We benefited four years ago from coming on a tour like this. I think already we’ve benefited again,” said Northern Ireland manager O’Neill.
“The big thing is, does it deepen our pool of players? Yeah, I think it does. And that’s very important. The senior boys have been great. It was great to see Jonny Evans out there. We played him in midfield and again he showed he can play there and I’m delighted with everyone.
“It provides options for us and that’s what we need. At times we’ve not had those options and it’s been our downfall. Slowly but surely I think we’re starting to see more options coming through.”
Northern Ireland’s next competitive fixture is not until September 8 when they face Bosnia and Herzegovina in their UEFA Nations League opener.
Against Costa Rica, they could field the same starting XI that faced Panama, which included West Brom defender Evans starting in midfield.
Veteran defender Aaron Hughes won his 111th cap in the match.
Costa Rica are preparing for the World Cup, where they face Brazil, Switzerland and Serbia in Group E.
From Sky Sports