Hearts’ Conor Washington set to start for Northern Ireland against Germany after overcoming back issue

Conor Washington is set to lead the line for Northern Ireland against Germany. Picture: SNS Group
Conor Washington is set to lead the line for Northern Ireland against Germany. Picture: SNS Group
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Hearts striker Conor Washington is set to start Northern Ireland’s crucial European Championship qualifier against Germany tonight.

Manager Michael O’Neill left Washington and several other experienced players out of Thursday’s friendly with Luxembourg to preserve them for the meeting with the Germans.

Washington is now set to lead the attack having established himself as a first-choice since joining Hearts in June.

He has scored two goals in eight appearances and has played more club football this season than any of the available Northern Ireland forwards.

“He’s in a good place to start,” said O’Neill, who started Kyle Lafferty and Josh Magennis up front against Luxembourg.

“Conor just had a wee bit of a back issue so we had to monitor him this week and wrap him up in cotton wool.

“If you look at our striking options, Kyle and Josh have only just sorted out their club situations and Liam Boyce is dealing with a hamstring injury.”

Northern Ireland sit top of Group C with full points from their first four European Championship qualifiers.

They are in a strong position to qualify automatically for next summer’s Euro 2020 finals. However, their final four qualifiers are likely to be pivotal games - home and away against both Germany and the Netherlands.