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Northern Ireland v Scotland: Talk of qualifying for World Cup finals is 'foolhardy' - NI boss Kenny Shiels3 hours ago
|International friendly: Northern Ireland v Scotland|
|Venue: Seaview, Belfast Date: Thursday 10 June Time: 19:00 BST|
|Coverage: Live stream on the BBC Sport website and iPlayer; live text commentary also on the BBC Sport website|
NI host Scotland in a friendly on Thursday in their final match before their opening World Cup qualifier at home to Luxembourg in September.
Shiels' team reached the Euros in historic fashion in April but he thinks the World Cup qualifying structure works against "smaller nations".
"The World Cup is so much more difficult than the Euros," he said.
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"With the draw, it is being provided more and more for the top nations to qualify because they want all the top teams in the world to be at the World Cup.
"I think the Nations League in the men's game would be a good copyright for us to look at. The women's game could be going that way where it allows the smaller nations to play against the smaller nations and become a more practical game, where it is a good challenge for both teams."
While Northern Ireland are playing a match for the first time since they beat Ukraine in their Euro play-off in April, Scotland go into Thursday's match at Seaview looking to bounce back from missing out despite having been top seeds in their qualifying group.
High-profile Northern Ireland players such as Rachel Furness, Ashley Hutton and Demi Vance are out injured, while Everton forward Simone Magill is unavailable as she is set to get married at the weekend.
With so many players missing, Shiels has taken the opportunity to call up a number of young players for a match which he said is more about preparation for World Cup qualifying than the result.
"We don't have to beat Scotland but we have to be careful we don't lose the winning mentality," he continued.
"Obviously we want to win against Scotland but it is not at the top of our priority list. At the top of our priority list is to get players to improve and to play better in the big games.
"Luxembourg is a much bigger game than Scotland, as is Latvia [NI's second qualifier], and that is what this game is preparing us for.
"But we have got total respect for Scotland who have a massive pool of players playing in the big leagues in Europe and England. Twenty-one of their squad are full-time professional players, so that is the magnitude of the game and we will do our best. "
With the Euro finals in England next summer coming in the middle of World Cup qualifying, Shiels is thinking carefully about how he plans the squad's development.
"There is a pathway there for us now that we have to prepare for and it is a difficult one because we go out of the Euros pathway, into the World Cup pathway and then back into the Euros pathway.
"It is a little bit 'juggly'. The Scotland game is to help the players top up on their game fitness. Hopefully we will learn something from Scotland and it will help the girls to get on a positive pathway."