Worthington hails players' character

09 October 2010 08:30

Northern Ireland manager Nigel Worthington revealed his players were left dejected at failing to beat 2006 world champions Italy.

The Euro 2012 qualifier at Windsor Park ended in a goalless draw in front of a capacity crowd. Record scorer David Healy squandered a great chance in the first half when he headed wide at the far post following a cross from Chris Brunt and, with time running out, Steven Davis came close to getting the winner for Worthington's side.

Worthington said: "It was a performance with a lot of character, determination and resilience. The discipline in the team was fantastic. Everyone stuck to their task. We knew Italy would have a lot of possession and one of the pleasing things for me is that the players are disappointed they have not won the game."

He added: "They feel we had the better chances. That shows to me what the players' mental state is. Also we have not played as well as we can do, which is passing the ball. It is a great point against the ex-world champions."

Sunderland striker Healy has now failed to score in eight qualifiers and was replaced by Kyle Lafferty in the second half.

He has Worthington's backing, however, with the manager stating: "I was blowing David's header in. It was a great ball in by Chris Brunt. The little man found a little gap but he is just going through a lean spell.

"I will carry on supporting him because he is working hard in training and looks a lot brighter and sharper. It is a case of when it happens."

It was Northern Ireland's second clean sheet in the campaign following the 1-0 victory against Slovenia last month and they will travel to the Faroe Islands for the match on Tuesday in good heart.

Worthington said: "Two clean sheets in the first two games is very pleasing. We stuck to our task, we kept our shape and gave nothing away.

"We have a good group of players and a lot of hard work goes in. I would have loved to have won the game but make no mistake a point against Italy at home shows we are moving forward."

Source: PA