Costa Rica v Northern Ireland

Costa Rica v Northern Ireland
Costa Rica v Northern Ireland
NI manager Michael O'Neill gives instructions to tour captain Jonny Evans during training

BBC coverage

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Jonny Evans expects Costa Rica to provide a stiffer test than Panama when Northern Ireland complete their Central American tour in San Jose on Sunday.

The West Brom defender will captain the team against their World Cup-bound hosts after a scoreless draw in Panama.

"It's going to be tougher - they have a lot of experience but it's one we're looking forward to," said Evans.

Gavin Whyte and Conor Hazard are poised to make their Northern Ireland debuts in the first game between the sides.

Five players travelled to Panama without a first international cap and three of them - Bailey Peacock-Farrell, Shayne Lavery and Jordan Thompson - received senior honours in the Estadio Rommel Fernandez stalemate.

Young Celtic goalkeeper Hazard and Crusaders midfielder Whyte are the other two waiting for a senior bow, and an appearance for the latter may aid his quest to move into full-time football across the water.

Carson expecting carnival atmosphere in Costa Rica

Costa Rica reached the last eight of the 2014 World Cup and they famously topped a group featuring England, Italy and Uruguay.

They qualified for the World Cup by finishing runners-up to Mexico in the final group stage, and they recently beat Scotland 1-0 in March in Alex McLeish's first game back as manager.

Costa Rica's squad includes Real Madrid goalkeeper Keylor Navas and this is their final home friendly as they prepare to take on Brazil, Serbia and Switzerland in Group E in Russia.

"We know a lot of their players and it will be a team that we know more about - it's another challenge for us against a team that has been together for a long time.," added Evans, who played in midfield against Panama.

"We are away together for 10 days - it's just us and because of that you are forced to get to know everyone a bit better.

"You find out more about the other players, which will be good for us all going forward.

"We want to put in another good performance and to make sure that we apply ourselves in the right way."

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