Aberdeen winger Niall McGinn insists the imminent exit of boss Michael O’Neill will not distract Northern Ireland’s Euro 2020 bid.
Having been appointed manager of Stoke City earlier this month O’Neill will remain in charge until the end of the qualification campaign.
Whether that will end in immediate qualification, the play-offs or elimination will be decided in a daunting double header against Holland and Germany to conclude the Group C campaign.
McGinn is in contention to secure a 59th cap against Holland in Belfast tonight before facing Germany in Frankfurt on Tuesday.
The 32-year-old said: “Michael is still part of the squad. He is still our manager, so we have to utilise that as much as possible.
“If one man can juggle club football and international football then it is Michael.
“It could be Michael’s last home game so it will be a bittersweet moment.
“That game will be a great atmosphere and the place will be absolutely bouncing.
“However, it has to be service as normal.”
The odds are stacked against Northern Ireland qualifying for the Euros automatically as they trail both Holland and Germany by three points and also have a far inferior goal difference.
Despite losing all four UEFA Nations League games a possible play-off spot could still open up – but it is convoluted as they require no more than four teams from Nations League Groups C and D to qualify directly for the finals.
Regardless of the outcome McGinn insists O’Neill’s eventual successor will be inheriting a strong, unified squad.
He said: “When the time comes for someone else to take over they will be walking into a tremendous job.
“Michael has left us in a good state.
“You just have to look at how well we have done in the eight-year period he has been manager.
“Whoever steps in when that time is right will step into a group of players who are focused and will always give 100%.
“It is a collective unit with everything.
“After the Ross County game (Aberdeen’s 3-1 win) the first thing I checked was the Stoke score.
“It was good to see Michael get off to a great start (4-2 win v Barnsley). I am delighted he is still part of the international set-up and he will be coming in off the back of a good win for Stoke.”
Holland’s Euro 2020 bid suffered an agonising blow last month when losing 3-1 away to Netherlands despite leading with just 10 minutes remaining.
They were level at 1-1 after 90 minutes and on course for a point which would have edged qualification odds in their favour.
However, the Dutch netted two goals deep into time added on.
McGinn said: “It just shows how far we have progressed as a team and a country that we are coming away disappointed after our results against Germany at home (2-0 defeat in September) and Netherlands away.”
McGinn and his countrymen will be up against talents such as Liverpool’s Champions League winning Virgil van Dijk, arguably the best defender in the world.
He relishes the challenge.
On facing world-class opposition, he said: “It just becomes the norm. I’ve been here for a long time, for both the bad times and for the unbelievable times.”
Netting a superb free-kick in the defeat of Ross County ensured McGinn met up with the Northern Ireland squad on a high.
He said: “Holland and Germany are two of the best teams in the world.
“I am feeling confident and good so hopefully I can play a part.”