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Slovenia v Northern Ireland: Preview
Published : 03 Sep 2010 09:23:38
Northern Ireland manager Nigel Worthington would have no hesitation in handing Sheffield-born schoolboy Johnny Gorman his first competitive outing on Friday.
Gorman, 17 and capped three times in friendly matches without making a senior appearance for Wolves, is likely to start on the bench in the Euro 2012 qualifier against Slovenia.
However if recent history is anything to go by, Worthington will at some stage turn to Gorman, who attends Repton School in Derbyshire after winning a scholarship.
Worthington said: "You look back over my time as manager of Northern Ireland and I have always encouraged the younger ones to come through.
"Johnny went to America and Chile with us in the summer and did ever so well. I think it is only right to encourage and give him the experience of travelling, hotels and working with the senior players.
"Great credit to him, he has fitted into the group by adding to it, rather than taking away from it. Sometimes with young players their inexperience and nerves can hold you back a bit.
"That hasn't happened with Johnny so I am delighted with that. He deserves to be here."
Worthington has been in close contact with Wolves, where Gorman plays for the Academy side and occasionally the reserves. He said: "I have spoken to the Wolves Academy manager (Kevin Thelwell). We've had discussions on the phone. They obviously wanted to know where Johnny was at and I had nothing but a glowing report.
"They are delighted he is involved with ourselves. They can see where we are coming from because they think a lot of him as well."
Fulham defender and team captain Aaron Hughes joined in the applause and said: "If someone came down today and watched Johnny they would not be able to tell he was a schoolboy. That's how much talent he has.
"The last time I saw a player do that was Jonny Evans. It is good we have these boys coming through."
Hughes has handed over the armband to Stephen Craigan as the Motherwell defender wins his 50th cap.
Slovenia arrived at the World Cup after beating Northern Ireland along the way - 2-0 at the same venue in the north of the country - and Worthington knows it will be just as tough two years on.
He said: "I watched Slovenia at the World Cup and I thought they did exceptionally well. I also watched them against Australia in August on DVD and they played very well again.
"I feel their players will be on a high. They are coming back to their home supporters, first game of the campaign - they'll be up for the fight, as we will.
"We were terrific the last time we were here. Slovenia had two chances in the last five minutes and they took them.
"That was game, set, and match to Slovenia. Concentration for the course of 90 minutes is very, very important."