Bolton striker Dion Charles has told Northern Ireland boss Ian Baraclough he is ready to step in and help solve the country’s scoring problem.
Northern Ireland have scored just six goals in their last nine competitive matches, including two in a losing cause as they lost 3-2 to Saturday’s opponents Kosovo in June, before salvaging a 2-2 draw with a late comeback against Cyprus at Windsor. Park a few days later.
With their 14-match unwinnable run in the Nations League putting pressure on coach Baraclough, Northern Ireland must find solutions both in Belfast this weekend and in Tuesday’s game against Greece, leader of the group.
Charles is yet to beat his international duck in 11 appearances for Northern Ireland, all as a substitute, but after scoring four goals in eight games for Bolton this season, the 26-year-old came on for the trustful duty.
“I had a chat with Ian to let him know I’m ready when he’s called,” Charles said. “If I get the chance, I’m sure I’ll take it.
“My first objective is to start and I have confidence in my own abilities and those of the team, that when I am on the pitch I will have chances and I will score.
“I just have to keep my head down and work hard in the sessions we have and give the manager something to think about.”
Charles received his first call-up in March 2021 but admitted establishing himself in an international team had been a very different challenge to anything he had faced before.
“It’s frustrating for me because I want to play,” he said. “Wherever I’ve been, I’ve played pretty much every game.
“Coming into the international setup, it’s a different environment that I had to get used to. I had to find my feet and I’m just looking forward to trying to get that starting spot.
“It’s always been my goal since I joined this team, it’s to play. International football is different from club football, so I had to bide my time, but hopefully I’ll have my time soon. chance.
The pressure is on Baraclough ahead of Saturday’s game. Northern Ireland started playing in League C with talk of promotion but go into the final two matches battling to avoid the drop after a dismal June in which a depleted side put in disjointed performances.
But Charles insisted the mood in camp was good with a number of players back in the squad and confidence they can turn things around this weekend.
“I think a win is coming and it could completely change the mood,” he said. “We had spells in those other games where we looked really good. We just have to be more consistent and keep creating chances.
“We created but just didn’t set them aside, but hopefully we can fix it.
“I think as a whole team we’re in a better position this time around. We have more boys playing week in and week out. Maybe we didn’t have that in June so we’ve got it. ‘wait impatiently. “