Tag Archives: worthington

James McClean never wanted to play for Northern Ireland – Nigel Worthington

EXCLUSIVE: Worthington reveals McClean never wanted to play for Northern Ireland

qualifier against Italy in Pescara and now, almost 18 months after handing the reins to Michael O'Neill, he admits he would return.

'If the opportunity ever came up again, I wouldn't think twice about taking it,' he said.

'I loved every minute of that job. I loved working with the squad and the people behind the scenes were always terrific.'

While
those supporting Worthington in post are fondly remembered, he failed
to leave much of a legacy among the fans, who complained at his
'negative' tactics.

'Some
people will remember sections of the supporters having a go at me
towards the end of my time but I wouldn't say a bad word against them.

'They
were fantastic, loyal and passionate throughout my time in charge and
there is no better sight in football than seeing 13,500 people inside a
bouncing Windsor Park.'

Jonny Evans groin injury keeps him out of Northern Ireland World Cup qualifier

Groin injury for Man United defender Evans is blow for Northern Ireland

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UPDATED:

22:58 GMT, 10 November 2012

Northern Ireland have lost influential defender Jonny Evans for the World Cup 2014 qualifier against Azerbaijan on Wednesday, with Andy Little and Alex Bruce also ruled out through injury.

While Little (foot) and Bruce (knee) would be unlikely to make the starting XI for the Group F clash, Evans (groin) is one of Michael O'Neill's most important players and was one of the top performers in the side's memorable 1-1 draw in Portugal last month.

O'Neill has responded to the withdrawals by adding uncapped Liverpool teenager Ryan McLaughlin and Burnley's Danny Lafferty to his squad.

Big miss: Jonny Evans (right) will not be fit for Northern Ireland's qualifier

Big miss: Jonny Evans (right) will not be fit for Northern Ireland's qualifier

Manchester United centre-back Evans had a modest turnout record in the latter stages of Nigel Worthington's reign but has been a regular since O'Neill took over at the turn of the year, even playing despite carrying a knock against Luxembourg in September.

His withdrawal is mitigated somewhat by the presence of West Brom's Gareth McAuley in the squad.

McAuley was suspended for the Portugal match but should now slot back into the centre of defence, where Craig Cathcart and Aaron Hughes are also available.

Little made a fine start to the season with Rangers, but he has now pulled out of successive Northern Ireland squads due to fitness issues.

Bruce, pencilled in to offer cover at right-back, has also dropped out of the last two parties.

McLaughlin, a highly-rated 18-year-old who has yet to make his senior Liverpool debut, will now deputise at right-back having been promoted from the Under-21 side to face England on Tuesday.

Tussle: Evans featured in the week against Braga

Tussle: Evans featured in the week against Braga

Left-back Lafferty is not a like-for-like replacement for any of the injured players but with Cathcart now needed in the centre, he will vie with Ryan McGivern for a starting spot.

Derby striker Jamie Ward (hamstring) was the first player to be withdrawn from O'Neill's 24-man panel and was yesterday replaced by Inverness' Billy McKay.

Northern Ireland No 1 in my sights, says Roy Carroll

Carroll targets No 1 spot after ending six-year hiatus from Northern Ireland set-up

PUBLISHED:

09:38 GMT, 1 June 2012

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UPDATED:

09:38 GMT, 1 June 2012

Roy Carroll has warned Lee Camp he is after the Northern Ireland No 1 jersey after a six-year absence from the national side.

Former Manchester United keeper Carroll won the last of his 19 caps in 2006, falling out of favour after a breakdown in relations with former manager Nigel Worthington.

Instead, he rebuilt a faltering club career overseas, first with Danish outfit Odense and then in Greece with OFI Crete and current employers Olympiacos.

Hot stopper: Roy Carroll has reinvigorated himself with Olympiakos

Hot stopper: Roy Carroll has reinvigorated himself with Olympiakos

Now, having been recalled for Saturday's friendly against Holland by new national boss Michael O'Neill, the 34-year-old hopes to do to the same to an international career he thought was at an end.

'Of course you wonder if it's over,' he said of his lengthy exile under Worthington. 'You don't know if you'll ever get back in or not. Things happen in football for a reason and when Michael took over I got my chance. What happened between me and Nigel is in the past now and you move on.

Back in the fold: Carroll hasn't been in an international squad for six years

Back in the fold: Carroll hasn't been in an international squad for six years

'Lee is a fantastic keeper and there are a lot of other keepers too, but I'm here to fight for the No 1 shirt. It's a squad game but with keepers there is only one spot to fight for. You have to take your chance.

'It's a great feeling to be back and I'm looking forward to it.'

Carroll is the oldest player in O'Neill's 24-man squad but admits to a rush of youthful exuberance at his comeback.

With former team-mates like Aaron Hughes, Gareth McAuley, Steven Davis, Jonny Evans, Chris Baird and Chris Brunt all absent from the trip for various reasons, there are plenty of new faces for Carroll to familiarise himself with too.

'What's it been six years Time flies,' he said. 'I'm looking forward to Saturday. If I play or come on it will feel like my debut again, it's been so long.

'I'm the oldest here but I'm still getting to know some of the lads and learning names. I'm older now, more chilled out but when you're playing Holland of course there are nerves.'

Left-back Ryan McGivern was one of the standout performers in O'Neill's first game in charge, putting in an eye-catching performance in the unflattering 3-0 defeat by Norway.

New man: Michael O'Neill took over from Nigel Worthington earlier this year

New man: Michael O'Neill took over from Nigel Worthington earlier this year

He is hoping for more of the same this time but concedes the Dutch represent the sternest test he has ever faced.

'Apart from the result, everything went well personally in the Norway game,' he said. 'It was the manager's first match and some people thought I did well. That's a platform for me to build on and hopefully cement a place in the back four.

'Italy were the best team we played in the last campaign and Holland are ranked a bit above them so this is probably the biggest opposition and best team I'll have faced.'

Northern Ireland call up Rory Donnelly and James McPake

Northern Ireland call up uncapped duo Donnelly and McPake for Holland clash

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UPDATED:

11:58 GMT, 21 May 2012

Teenage striker Rory Donnelly and Scotland-born defender James McPake have earned their first Northern Ireland call-ups for next month's friendly against Holland in Amsterdam.

Manager Michael O'Neill has named a much-changed squad for his second match in charge of the national side, with senior players including Jonny Evans, Chris Brunt, Aaron Hughes, Kyle Lafferty and Dean Shiels all excused.

That has left room for some experimentation in the 24-man party, with Swansea's Donnelly and McPake, who ended the season on loan at Hibernian from Coventry, joined by fellow uncapped duo Daniel Lafferty and Will Grigg.

Proud day: Hibs' James McPake has been called up by Northern Ireland

Proud day: Hibs' James McPake has been called up by Northern Ireland

There are also recalls for Crusaders defender Colin Coates, Notts County forward Jeff Hughes and Rangers striker Andrew Little.

O'Neill has also recalled former Manchester United goalkeeper Roy Carroll to the squad.

Carroll, now with Olympiakos, last played for his country in 2006 but after being sidelined by Nigel Worthington is back in the international fold.

No captain has been named for the game, with O'Neill's appointed skipper Steve Davis among the injured and other alternatives such as Hughes, Evans and West Brom's Gareth McAuley also absent.

While it is a relatively youthful squad, record goalscorer and 92-cap veteran David Healy is named, with Grant McCann and Sammy Clingan the next most experienced players with 38 and 32 caps respectively.

Northern Ireland squad

Lee Camp, Alan Mannus, Roy Carroll; Michael Duff, Ryan McGivern, Lee Hodson, Colin Coates, Rory McArdle, Daniel Lafferty, James McPake; Sammy Clingan, Grant McCann, Corry Evans, Shane Ferguson, Jeff Hughes, Oliver Norwood, Pat McCourt; David Healy, Josh McQuoid, Niall McGinn, Josh Carson, Andrew Little, William Grigg, Rory Donnelly.

O'Neill has made it his mission to increase the available player pool as Northern Ireland manager and the presence of McPake, who qualifies via his grandmother, hints at a first success in that regard.

Having arrived at Hibs on a six-month loan deal he was immediately installed as club captain and led his new side to safety in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League, as well as to the Scottish Cup final.

Donnelly, meanwhile, has a chance to impress after capturing headlines in January with his move from Cliftonville to the Barclays Premier League.
Liverpool and Everton were both interested in the striker's services but it was Swans boss, and fellow Northern Irishman, Brendan Rodgers, who won the chase.

Donnelly has yet to play for first-team football for the club but has featured in the Northern Ireland Under 21 set-up.

Walsall's Grigg is also included after impressing for the Under 21s against Macedonia earlier in the month and Daniel Lafferty has been rewarded for winning a place in the Burnley side following his move from Derry City.

Northern Ireland 0 Norway 3: Same old problems for new man Michael O"Neill

Northern Ireland 0 Norway 3: Same old problems for new man O'Neill

Michael O'Neill's first match in charge of Northern Ireland ended in defeat as a deflected opener and two late goals gave Norway a comfortable victory at Windsor Park.

Things started brightly enough, with the hosts having the best of the first period only to go behind a minute before the break after Sammy Clingan diverted Havard Nordtveit's shot past Lee Camp.

Tarik Elyounoussi then doubled the winning margin with a neat shot on the turn and Espen Ruud's volley sealed it in added time.

Fortunate goal: Havard Nordtveit celebrates his goal with Marcus Henriksen

Fortunate goal: Havard Nordtveit celebrates his goal with Marcus Henriksen

MATCH FACTS

Northern Ireland: Camp, McAuley, Hughes, Jonathan Evans, McGivern, Corry Evans, Clingan, Davis, Ferguson, Shiels, Paterson.

Subs: Mannus, Hodson, McGinn, Healy, McCann, Duff, McQuoid, McCourt, Carson, McGovern.

Norway: Jarstein, Hogli, Rogne, Demidov, Riise, Henriksen, Nordtveit, Grindheim, Pedersen, Abdellaoui, Huseklepp.

Subs: Pettersen, Reginiussen, Elyounoussi, Ruud, Jenssen, Braaten, Berisha.

O'Neill's first teamsheet included
recalled duo Dean Shiels and Shane Ferguson, both absent from the
national set-up for the last two years of Nigel Worthington's tenure.

There was also a change at the back,
with Jonny Evans given the chance to establish himself in his preferred
centre-back position in place of Gareth McAuley, who was shifted to
right-back.

David Healy started on the bench but
with 17 minutes left became his country's most capped outfield player –
cap number 92 taking him clear of Mal Donaghy.

Northern Ireland's first attack, in
the second minute, saw full-back Ryan McGivern break down the left and
fire a powerful effort at goal.

Goalkeeper Rune Jarstein reacted well
to tip it over the crossbar only for Shiels to produce a tame header
from the resulting corner.

Holding off: Northern Ireland Dean Shiels battles with Norway's Christian Grindham

Holding off: Northern Ireland Dean Shiels battles with Norway's Christian Grindham

Ferguson was next to try his luck down the left and his deflected cross just evaded Martin Paterson on the six-yard line.

The lively start found the fans in
noticeably better voice than they had been at the end of the Worthington
era, with O'Neill's arrival in the technical area warmly welcomed.

Clingan was using the ball well in
midfield, freeing Ferguson again as a quick Northern Ireland break again
stretched the visiting defence.

Norway were content to counter-attack in the opening 20 minutes, but too often left Mohammed Abdellaoue isolated up front.

New era, same result: Northern Ireland's Steven Davis vies with Norway's Morten Gamst Pedersen

New era, same result: Northern Ireland's Steven Davis vies with Norway's Morten Gamst Pedersen

Northern Ireland endured a nervy
moment after 25 minutes, a weak defensive header from Ferguson handing
Norway a clear opportunity on the right-hand side of the penalty area.

Luckily, it fell to full-back Tom Hogli, who blazed over.

Moments later Northern Ireland had the best chance so far.

Fight for the ball: Ryan McGivern vies with Norway's Valon Berisha for possession

Fight for the ball: Ryan McGivern vies with Norway's Valon Berisha for possession

Ferguson's cross was poorly dealt
with, leading to a frenetic couple of seconds that saw Steven Davis,
Paterson and McAuley all try to force the ball over the line from close
range.

Davis was closest to success, with McAuley's sliced effort ending the danger.

There was a warning for the home side too when Erik Huseklepp worked Camp at the near post.

John Arne Riise twice looked primed for spectacular volleys but made negligible contact with both attempts.

Three and easy: Espen Ruud celebrates scoring Norway's third goal

Three and easy: Espen Ruud celebrates scoring Norway's third goal

Norway did take the lead a minute
before the break when Aaron Hughes half-cleared a corner as far as
Nordtveit, whose low shot beat Camp via the unfortunate Clingan.

O'Neill made two changes at the
interval, Grant McCann on for Corry Evans and Michael Duff ending a
four-year exile in place of Hughes.

McCann was quick to make an
impression, winning the ball in midfield, carrying it 10 yards and
forcing a fingertip save from 25 yards.

At the other end Camp fumbled Riise's near-post effort but was lucky to see Daniel Braaten botch the rebound.

Shoulder to shoulder: Grant McCann keeps the ball away from Norway's Ruben Yttergard Jenssen

Shoulder to shoulder: Grant McCann keeps the ball away from Norway's Ruben Yttergard Jenssen

Shiels was lively in his role linking midfield and attack and his cross on the hour allowed Davis a header at goal.

A clever through ball from McGivern
then found Shiels clear of his man inside the area but a crucial saving
tackle snuffed out the danger.

With a little over 20 minutes remaining, O'Neill turned to winger Paddy McCourt, who came on for the impressive Ferguson.

The Celtic man was watched from the
stands by club boss Neil Lennon, returning to the ground where he was
once barracked by his own fans on international duty.

International bow: Northern Ireland's manager Michael O'Neill and Norway's manager Egil Olsen shake hands

International bow: Northern Ireland's manager Michael O'Neill and Norway's manager Egil Olsen shake hands

McCourt was quick to make an impact too, twice beating his man on the left and sending in testing crosses.

Healy, meanwhile, had been left
waiting long enough for his record-breaking appearance and he was next
off the bench to replace Paterson.

The Rangers striker was unable to mark the occasion with a goal but Norway had time for two more.
Elyounoussi extended the visitors' lead three minutes from time when he
beat Camp at the near post, before Ruud's superb stoppage-time volley
made it 3-0 despite the Nottingham Forest keeper getting a strong hand
to it.

New Northern Ireland boss urges fans to get behind the team

We need help! New Northern Ireland boss urges fans to get behind the team

Michael O'Neill has called for
Northern Ireland fans to welcome in a new era by throwing their support
behind the team at Windsor Park.

O'Neill takes charge of his country
for the first time against Norway, with a new captain in tow in the
shape of Rangers midfielder Steven Davis.

Michael O'Neill: new Northern Ireland boss

Michael O'Neill: new Northern Ireland boss

And the former Shamrock Rovers boss is also hoping for a fresh start with the Green and White Army, who grew audibly frustrated towards the end of a disappointing Euro 2012 campaign.

Former manager Nigel Worthington shouldered most of the flak then and O'Neill has appealed for supporters to back their team from the off against Egil Olsen's side.

'It's a new start under a new manager,' said O'Neill.

'You can understand the frustration of the supporters, but no-one feels the pain of defeat any more than the players, I can assure them of that.

'I think as a supporter it's important to recognise how positive their influence can be, not only for our team but also in making the atmosphere hostile for the opposition.

'An energetic and positive performance from the lads can hopefully transmit into a positive atmosphere (in the stands).

'It's no secret the last campaign finished on a disappointing note. The players know that, everyone knows that, but that unrealistic weight of expectancy is something the players have maybe struggled to deal with in the past.

'A bit of perspective would be nice.'

Tough test: Northern Ireland face Norway at Windsor Park

Tough test: Northern Ireland face Norway at Windsor Park

O'Neill confirmed Davis would lead the side for the foreseeable future, despite former skipper Aaron Hughes' decision to reverse his retirement and return to the squad after less than six months.

'Steven Davis is the captain and he will be the captain going forward,' said O'Neill.

'I just thought at this stage of his career and with a new manager coming in it was maybe time and it would benefit the squad.

'I had a long chat with Aaron about the situation and he was, as you'd expect, totally supportive and understanding.

'He didn't have any expectation to come back as captain having made his decision (to retire) towards the end of the last campaign, he was very supportive of Steven and very supportive of the decision.'

Derby's Jamie Ward is a major doubt for the hosts after complaining of a tight thigh muscle yesterday.

Celtic defender Thomas Rogne will win his first cap for Norway after captain Brede Hangeland was ruled out with a thigh injury of his own.

Rogne had been promised some involvement in the match by Olsen and has now been drafted into the starting XI after Fulham centre-half Hangeland dropped out.

Rogne is one of four British-based players set to start at Windsor Park, with Hangeland's Cottagers team-mate John Arne-Riise in the side alongside Blackburn's Morten Gamst Pedersen and Erik Huseklepp, who is on loan at Birmingham from Portsmouth.

Shane Duffy called up to Ireland squad

Everton defender Duffy called up to Ireland squad for Czech friendly after Dunne withdrawal

Everton defender Shane Duffy has been called up to the Republic of Ireland squad for this month's friendly against Czech Republic following an injury to Richard Dunne.

Dunne suffered a fractured clavicle during Aston Villa's Barclays Premier League defeat to Manchester City, the Football Association of Ireland have announced.

Head boy: Duffy (centre) has been called up for this month's friendly

Head boy: Duffy (centre) has been called up for this month's friendly

The 20-year-old Duffy will join up with Giovanni Trapattoni's squad for training on February 26, three days before the friendly with Czech Republic at the Aviva Stadium.

Duffy played for Northern Ireland at various levels before earning a call up to the full squad under coach Nigel Worthington.

He did not play for the senior side though, and in February 2010 Duffy confirmed he was switching allegiances to the Republic of Ireland.

In May 2010 Duffy was rushed to hospital in Dublin after suffering a horrific injury during a Republic training game, rupturing his hepatic artery, but after undergoing life-saving surgery he was able to return to action later in the same year.

Michael O"Neill to be new Northern Ireland boss

Shamrock Rovers boss O”Neill to be named Worthington”s successor at Northern Ireland

Luck of the Irish: Michael O

Luck of the Irish: Michael O”Neill is set to replace Nigel Worthington in the Northern Ireland hotseat

Michael O”Neill is set to succeed Nigel Worthington as Northern Ireland boss in the New Year.

O”Neill, who guided League of Ireland side Shamrock Rovers to the group stages of the Europa League en route to a second championship on the spin, won the race to the post ahead of former international team-mates, Jim Magilton and Iain Dowie.

Irish FA bosses concluded their interview process on Monday when they were impressed by the 42-year old”s vision for the future.

The former Newcastle United midfielder has seen his stock rise since cutting his managerial teeth at Brechin City in 2006, and has been fast-tracked to the top.

Managerless Hartlepool are believed to have made O’Neill their top target to succeed Mick Wadsworth but Northern Ireland got there first.

After his country came calling, O”Neill announced the European showdown against Spurs would be his final game as manager, prompting speculation he would soon make himself available for Northern Ireland.

Now sources close to the governing body have confirmed O”Neill is the man they want to recruit, but they only have a limited budget to work within.

Low ebb: Worthington left the post after Euro 2012 qualifying

Low ebb: Worthington left the post after Euro 2012 qualifying

Worthington earned a not insignificant salary of 450,000 a year in the job but O”Neill has reportedly been warned his pay cheque will not exceed 250,000, with a figure of 215,000 a more reasonable expectation.

It”s now down to chief executive Patrick Nelson to resume talks with O’Neill after Christmas.

The IFA were expected to announce the news in mid-January but following leaked information, bosses may be forced to finalise contract negotiations sooner.

O”Neill”s assistant at Shamrock Rovers, Jim Magilton, who was also interviewed for the post, may now be a renewed target for Preston North End, who sacked Phil Brown last week.

Swansea City manager Brendan Rodgers turned down Northern Ireland

Swans boss Rodgers admits Northern Ireland came calling but he turned them down

Roaring success: Brendan Rodgers is one of the Premier League

Roaring success: Brendan Rodgers is one of the Premier League”s brightest young managers

Swansea manager Brendan Rodgers has confirmed he turned down the opportunity to coach Northern Ireland on a part-time basis.

Rodgers said he snubbed the chance to step into the role vacated by Nigel Worthington at the end of the Euro 2012 qualifying campaign because he is committed to the south Wales club, and believes that the Northern Ireland job can only be done on a full-time basis.

The IFA made an approach to Swans chairman Huw Jenkins over Rodgers” availability, but he revealed it did not take him long to make a decision.

Rodgers, who had previously said he hoped to manage his country later in his career, said: “The story was simple, a couple of weeks ago Northern Ireland approached the chairman and asked for permission to speak to me with regards to doing the job part-time, and my stance was the same as it was a number of weeks ago.

“The job is a big job, something that is very important going forward for the development of football in the country, and for me it”s a full-time post. I didn”t have to think about it for a long time, my concentration and focus is always with Swansea.

Walking away: Nigel Worthington

Walking away: Nigel Worthington”s tenure ended after Euro 2012 qualifying

“The chairman and I have a great relationship. He was very honest and asked if I wanted to take it forward. I would love to do it at some point in my career but at the moment, with the respect I have for Swansea, my concentration can only be on Swansea.”

Swansea have also been linked with a move for Cliftonville striker Rory Donnelly, and Rodgers confirmed the club have made a bid, believed to be around 100,000, for the 19-year-old.

“The club have made an offer and we are waiting to find out,” he said. “We can only do what we always do, try and get an agreement with them and once we get that it gives us a chance to speak to the player.

“He is a talented boy and Cliftonville have been fantastic recently, they won 13 games in a row and won the County Antrim Shield which I saw the other week. There are a lot of talented players in Northern Ireland and he is another one of them.”