Tuesday March 4 2014
U21: Magilton hails Italy

Northern Ireland Under-21 manager Jim Magilton hailed Italy as “a really top-class side” ahead of tomorrow’s game.

The Azzurrini visit Lurgan’s Mourneview Park in a European Championship qualifier on Wednesday at 16.00 GMT.

“They are a great footballing nation and we're looking forward to having them over here,” said Magilton.

“It’s a great opportunity for our young players to play against a really top-class side. This is very much a learning curve for a lot of these young players. This is where they will make their mistakes.

“But it’s all part of their footballing education. At 21 they probably think they have cracked it, but they most certainly haven't.”

Italy won 3-0 back in November and Northern Ireland have only three points from five games in Group 9, which they achieved by beating Cyprus 1-0.

“When we played Italy we were very good for periods of the game. We were competitive, we limited them to very few chances and then we got punished for two mistakes. If you do that against top-class opposition that is going to happen.”

See the latest Serie A predictions and betting tips with