Northern Ireland meeting with Israel under threat

Match with Russia was suspended

The prospects of Northern Ireland losing a second World Cup qualifier to the weather receded this afternoon, with Israel given the green light to train at Windsor Park.

Russia left Belfast without fulfilling their Group F clash after the original Friday night kick-off and a revised start time of 3pm on Saturday were called off due to heavy snow and pitch ice.

There had been some concerns tomorrow's visit of Israel would also be under threat, but a clear-up operation took place at the ground today and a FIFA delegation were dispatched to check the playing surface was safe for the visitors to practise at 5pm.

They confirmed they were happy for the session to go ahead, meaning the only threat to tomorrow's 7.45pm start would be another bout of extreme weather in the next 24 hours.

The match referee, alongside FIFA officials, will make a planned inspection at 10.30am in the morning - during which time the pitch will be assessed again in line with standard regulations.

Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill made his own visit to the stadium earlier today and is certain there will be no problems with the pitch.

"I was at the pitch this morning, it's not wet and it's not sticky," he said.

"In fact it's nice and dry and it's as good as it was before the snow was on it.

"The pitch is nice and firm, albeit slightly softer than it was when we trained on it on Thursday, but we have no concerns about the pitch at all.

"The groundsman has done a fantastic job."

A statement released by the IFA added: "The Irish FA is working tirelessly to prepare the pitch at Windsor Park for Tuesday night's World Cup qualifier against Israel.

"A pitch inspection will be carried out by the referee on Tuesday morning as part of his normal duties.

"The thaw has greatly helped the pitch and it is firm underfoot.

"Covers will be in place tonight. The aim of covers are to protect the pitch from the frost."

PA

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there