Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill will reconsider arranging friendlies straight after competitive games having seen their 10-match home unbeaten run ended by an under-strength Croatia.

There was no Luka Modric, Ivan Rakitic or Dejan Lovren in Belfast but captain Mario Mandzukic, Duje Cop and former Leicester flop Andrej Kramaric were all on target as the hosts suffered their first loss at Windsor Park since a 2013 defeat to Portugal.

With a 4-0 win over Azerbaijan in the same venue four days earlier and next March's home clash with Norway of far more importance, O'Neill was not overly concerned by what he saw in their reverse.

"I think a friendly after a competitive game is maybe not something we would do again," he said.

"I gave him the option to miss the game and he came back in to play, I think that says everything about Jonny Evans..."

"We will be fully focused to play again in March; I've told the players that result isn't important. We have a big game against Norway to put ourselves at 10 points (in the World Cup qualification process) and in an even stronger position.

"Our priority was that we win the game on Friday night. If anything this was probably maybe a game we didn't need with the injuries we had but we got some of our players who've had little exposure on the pitch; that was the bonus for us."

Five players were retained from the XI that started against Azerbaijan, including the West Brom trio of Gareth McAuley, Chris Brunt and Jonny Evans.

The latter, who became a father again last week, was given the option to skip the game too but ended up returning to Belfast hours before and then completing 90 minutes - a fact that O'Neill thought summed up one of his key players' attitude to the Northern Irish cause.

"It's unbelievable," O'Neill added.

"He only came in in the morning for the game, his wife's had a baby and he went home for a few days.

"I gave him the option to miss the game and he came back in to play, I think that says everything about Jonny Evans, in terms of his attitude to play."

If the limited squad depth in O'Neill's ranks was evident in this loss, the strength of counterpart Ante Cacic's options was also proved.

Sporting Gijon's Cop played a part in all three goals and Kramaric's 30-yard bullet was the pick of the bunch.

It was a strike Leicester fans were not treated to during his ill-fated short spell in the midlands, when he scored just four times, though Cacic believes his move to Hoffenheim will be beneficial for his future.

"I think he made a great move when he made it to the Bundesliga," Cacic said.

"He made a big step forward; he's playing impressively for the national team, he's useful in the build-up play and he's a great converter of chances."