Northern Ireland meeting with Israel under threat
Match with Russia was suspended
Monday 25 March 2013
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."
Latest in Sport
Chelsea 2015/16 shirt: Home, away and third kits leaked again
Wojciech Szczesny was 'lied to' by Arsene Wenger over future after £11m transfer of Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech
England vs Japan - Women's World Cup semi-final: what time does it start and what channel is it on?
Football kits 2015/16: The good, the bad and the downright worst new shirts from around the world for next season
Manchester United transfer news: Javier Hernandez nears exit as Liverpool eye move for forward despite revealing Real Madrid video
- 1 Tunisia hotel attack: Locals form 'human shield' to protect hotel from gunman Seifeddine Rezgui
- 2 Optical illusion turns blue demon into brunette
- 3 German ethics council calls for incest between siblings to be legalised by Government
- 4 Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal to donate entire $32bn fortune to charity
- 5 Mystery sea creature - with 'fur' and 'a beak' - washes up on remote Russian beach, baffling scientists