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Aaron Hughes admits that Northern Ireland must beat Estonia in Tallinn tomorrow night to keep their European Championship hopes alive.

The Northern Irish skipper says his team were disappointed to lose to Serbia in Belfast on Friday night and has urged his said to ‘throw caution to the wind’ against the Estonians as only three points will reignite their qualification hopes. The current complexion of Group C, with Northern Ireland three points behind second-placed Slovenia who sit in the play-off place, leaves Nigel Worthington’s side probably needing nine points from their final three games to reach the play-offs.

For the first time ever I have to say this is a must-win game. When you get to this stage in the competition you have to win. We know we’ve got to try and be positive but not in a gung-ho way.

We don’t need to try and win a game in the first 10 minutes, we need to keep the ball down, get ourselves plenty of confidence and we have to be patient. We are on their home patch so they’re going to be doing the same. But, if we get to the last 10 minutes and if it’s 0-0, you know you have to throw a bit of caution to the wind.

The Fulham centre back says the team’s qualification worries have been heightened by their failure to capitalise on good passages of play with goals.

We can’t put our finger on exactly why [the strikers have struggled] but defensively we have been quite good and frustrated other teams. As a team we need to work hard at going forward and causing sides problems, I think we have created opportunities though. Nobody has their head down.