Blackpool's Jordan Thompson set for Northern Ireland U21s qualifier showdown at Windsor Park

Thompson in training with Northern Ireland U21s
Thompson in training with Northern Ireland U21s
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Blackpool's Jordan Thompson is likely to feature for Northern Ireland U21s at Windsor Park tonight for their qualifier showdown with Slovakia.

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Northern Ireland are currently third in their group, one point behind Slovakia heading into tonight's final fixture, with the winner guaranteed a second-placed finish behind leaders Spain.

Thompson's side could earn a play-off spot for next year's U21 European Championships, although it's not guaranteed.

The four runners-up with the best records against the teams first, third, fourth and fifth in their group go into the play-offs, where a pair of two-legged ties will decide the last two qualifiers.

Northern Ireland U21 coach Ian Barraclough revealed the excitement in his squad about playing at the national stadium.

He said: “I think you see the enthusiasm, quite a few haven’t played here, I haven't even been here on the pitch and I think it makes it special.

"It’s a shootout. Whoever wins the game comes second and then whatever will be will be in regards to the play-off place. We need to win the game. We’re a point behind Slovakia so we’ve got to win it.

“We’ll try and play in their half and make them defend. There will be times when they get out, they’re a good team, good players technically.

"For me we’ve always been best when we’ve been on the front foot, when we’ve tried to take the game to the opposition and it’ll be no different.

“There’s definite youthful exuberance, willingness to work hard for each other, we’ve got some good pace in the team, good organisation, you hope you can take all that on to the big arena.

“This is exactly the stage we want them to be at, to find out a little bit more about them because it’s only one step away from Michael O'Neill’s senior team.”

Thompson, who has made 13 appearances for Blackpool this season, has already won two caps with Northern Ireland's senior side.

He played 90 minutes in Northern Ireland U21's 1-0 win against Iceland on Thursday.

Tonight's game kicks off at 7.30pm.