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Cathcart seeks more from McGinn

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12 Nov 2012 14:34:00

Cathcart seeks more from McGinn

Craig Cathcart is hoping that Niall McGinn's recent scoring streak extends to Northern Ireland's World Cup qualifier against Azerbaijan.

The winger has been on a rich vein of form since swapping Celtic for Aberdeen in the summer, finding the net in each of his last seven Scottish Premier League matches. He also scored Northern Ireland's opener in the shock 1-1 draw in Portugal last month, his first international strike. That impressive run has not gone unnoticed by Blackpool defender Cathcart, who is hoping for more of the same against Group F minnows Azerbaijan at Windsor Park.

"Niall is scoring for fun at the minute," said the centre-back, who was also part of the side in Porto.

"It didn't really happen for him at Celtic and he's done the right thing, gone away to play games.

"He's coming back stronger for that. He's shown that for Aberdeen, scoring goals, and now for Northern Ireland as well.

"He did well in the Portugal match, took his goal really well with the only chance he really had. He'll be looking to carry on his good form on Wednesday and get on the scoresheet again."

Despite the brave backs-to-the-wall showing last time out, Northern Ireland are aware the visit of Azerbaijan represents a much different challenge. They will be expected to take the game to their opponents this time and go one better than their last home assignment - a disappointing 1-1 draw with Luxembourg.

"We don't know much about them but we've seen their (group) games and we know they'll be hard to beat," Cathcart added.

"They'll come here thinking they can get a result, like Luxembourg did, but we can't afford to slip up again.

"The whole team showed against Portugal that when we perform to our best we can pull off some good results and hopefully we can do that again on Wednesday.

"I'm sure we broke a few betting coupons that night and the whole team takes confidence from that, but we can't afford to slip up now so we need a big performance."

Cathcart is set to retain his starting place with Jonny Evans ruled out through injury, but several other players who fought so bravely at the Dragao Stadium are less sure of their spots. The likes of Chris Brunt and Shane Ferguson are available again after missing the previous fixture, while Dean Shiels is also a likely starter. Cathcart accepts such dilemmas are all part of the international game.

"The team that played that night had a lot of younger players - like Niall, Corry Evans, Ollie Norwood - who came in and did really well," he said.

"We've got a really young squad and to go to Portugal and get that result with a young team shows we have a really good future as well.

"But this is going to be a completely different game. Hopefully we'll have a lot more of the ball and create a few more chances.

"Michael (O'Neill, manager) might have to change a few things and play a bit more of an attacking side. That's what the manager is there to do and I'm sure he'll pick the right team.

"You have to filter in the young players and they have to learn from the experienced lads in the squad. The more they play alongside the experienced lads the more they learn and become better players for it."


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