Michael O’Neill insists that Northern Ireland will not treat minnows Andorra lightly in Murcia tonight, pointing out they will prepare as diligently for the game as they did against Spain at the weekend.

O’Neill’s comments at the team’s training camp came an hour before thunderstorms hit the city with more forecast for match night when Northern Ireland will be designated as the ‘home’ team at Estadio Nueva Condomina.

That’s where Real Murcia play and has a capacity of 31,000. It promises to be an eerie atmosphere when O’Neill’s team face Andorra with around 400 members of the Green and White Army expected and not many others.

Ranked 164th in the world, Northern Ireland’s opponents are largely part-time players who play in the Andorran League or lower divisions in Spain.

They lost 5-0 last week to the Spanish, who fielded a stronger starting XI when they defeated O’Neill’s men 5-1 on Saturday.

Andorra only started playing football in 1996, winning seven competitive internationals since though none of them came in Euro 2024 qualifying where they lost eight games and drew two against Kosovo and Belarus.

It would be viewed as humiliating if Northern Ireland weren’t victorious on tonight.

In his first qualifying campaign in his first spell as national team boss, O’Neill’s team was defeated by Luxembourg, which was a serious shock at the time. Since then, he has been adept at beating the so called minnows of world football.

“These games in the past have been difficult for Northern Ireland,” said O’Neill.

“We prepare for games like this in a similar way as we would facing Spain.

“We haven’t had as many days ahead of the Andorra game but we have covered everything off with set pieces to making sure how we are with the ball and without the ball. We don’t dilute the preparation which I think helps the players stay focused.

“When I look back to what we had in qualification for Euro 2016, the message to that team was to create expectation and that’s what we are trying to do with this team.

“Slowly but surely, I think we will get there with this group of players.

“They are very young and the most important thing is to be consistent with what you do and not treat these games lightly.”

Jonny Evans won’t be part of the squad for the match with Andorra

Set to make changes to the side that started versus Spain, O’Neill was asked what he is looking for from the fixture.

“It’s about a good performance and a good result, simple as that,” he replied emphatically.

“You don’t want to labour in a game like this, you want to play with confidence and move the ball well.

“The opposition will be difficult, they’ll be resilient and frustrating but we have to make sure we don’t play into their hands.

“We have to play quickly and with real purpose.

“We will change the team and bring some freshness in. It’s similar to when we played San Marino (in Euro 2024 qualifiers winning both games), you are looking to that early goal to help you and then settle into the game and it is a case of taking care of business really.”

There will be no Jonny Evans against Andorra with O’Neill outlining the 36-year-old Manchester United defender, who is having contract talks with his club, was never going to play in Murcia.

“When we brought Jonny in, we discussed that it would be unlikely that I would play him in this game,” said O’Neill. “At his age, after playing 90 minutes as he did on Saturday, to ask him to play again with the niggly types of injuries he’s had this season, it wouldn’t have made any sense and obviously he has his contract situation at Manchester United to discuss and get agreement on that.

“I was pleased with his involvement in the game against Spain and it gives other players a chance to step in.”

The man who steps into Evans’ captain’s role is fellow defender Daniel Ballard.

“Daniel is a player we have seen grow since he came in initially in our 21s,” said O’Neill.

“I have followed his career path from being out on loan and getting himself to the level he has done in the Championship with Sunderland.

“I have watched Sunderland quite a bit with him, Trai (Hume) and Corry (Evans) there and you see the leadership qualities he displays at a big club like that where demands are high so I think it is a natural step with the squad we have here that we give him that responsibility.”