Northern Ireland captain Steven Davis believes the next week will be a vital one in his country’s preparations for UEFA EURO 2016.
Michael O’Neill’s squad will travel to Wales for a friendly on Thursday, before hosting Slovenia, in Belfast, next Monday.
The games mark the start of preparations for this summer’s tournament, in France, with Northern Ireland having qualified for the finals for the first time in their history.
Looking ahead to the two games, midfielder Davis told Southampton’s official YouTube channel: "It's vital. Just trying to keep that rhythm going, keep the consistency going in results and confidence in the team and obviously two decent games in the lead up to the Euros, so it'll give the manager an opportunity to maybe have a look at some other players, different formations and they're going to be two very important games for us.”
On the Wales game, Davis added: "It's two teams that are in good form, high on confidence, a bit of a rivalry obviously with being so close. It's a game that all the boys will be looking forward to, and I'm sure there will be a good atmosphere.”
Northern Ireland have been handed an extremely tough draw at the finals, with Poland, Ukraine and world champions Germany awaiting them.
"I don't think it could have got much tougher to be honest,” said Davis. “They’re really difficult games, but we knew that anyway.
“Whoever you're going to get at the tournament is always going to be difficult, but I think for us we just have to go and show what we're all about, hopefully surprise a few people and you never know what can happen.
"The manager’s preparation and attention to detail is always spot on, so he won't leave any stone unturned and he gives us the best possible chance of going out there and getting results, but we know how difficult the games are going to be and it's important we get off to a good start in the tournament as well.”