Pat display sways Worthington

11 August 2011 04:29
igel Worthington admits Pat McCourt has made himself undroppable for Northern Ireland's crunch clash against Serbia next month.

McCourt lit up Windsor Park with a dazzling display on Wednesday night, scoring two wonderful goals as Worthington's men romped to a 4-0 win over the Faroe Islands.

Three points, not to mention the emphatic nature of the performance, have raised Northern Ireland's hopes of claiming second place in their Euro 2012 qualifying group.

Worthington's side are now third, two points off Slovenia with a game in hand, meaning the visit of Serbia on September 2 is a crucial one.

McCourt had not started a competitive match before Wednesday night's win but shone in the absence of Kyle Lafferty, Chris Brunt, Josh McQuoid, Martin Paterson and Warren Feeney.

Now Worthington, who has taken some time to be won over by the mercurial Celtic winger, is ready to throw his plans out of the window to accommodate him.

"Paddy's got fantastic feet, he twists defenders this way and that and he can really turn it on," he said.

"But you've got to be honest and say it publicly.where are you going to play him against Serbia, because they are going to have 10 men coming at you.

"Yet he has to play. I'll have to pick a team pretty much around him and make sure he's there."

Worthington will hope McCourt's eye-catching display against the Faroes will be enough to catch the eye of Hoops boss Neil Lennon, another who has been reluctant to hand the 27-year-old a regular starting berth.

"If Paddy can get more regular first-team football that's going to help us," he said.

"That's been shown with Niall McGinn (who has left Celtic on loan). He's had a full pre-season with Brentford and where he was a year ago against this match is chalk and cheese."

Prior to Wednesday, Northern Ireland had scored just three times in five Group C matches.

With fans hoping for a change in tack against a leaky Faroes defence, captain Aaron Hughes opened the scoring after just five minutes only for a nervy hour-long wait before Steven Davis lashed home a second to ease the tension.

McCourt's brilliant brace followed and Worthington was pleased to see his side playing with a new-found freedom.

"Goalscoring has been a problem for us," he admitted.

"The win was the first thing, that was number one. Winning a game of football 1-0 is fantastic but if you get three, four, five goals that's even better.

"I'm always harping on at our defenders on set plays and I'm delighted for Aaron Hughes. He's a fantastic man, a great skipper and he's proud to wear the Northern Ireland shirt.

"He can now look back on his career, when the time comes, and say 'I scored a goal for Northern Ireland'. Fantastic."

Source: Team_Talk