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Worthington springs surprise
Published : 25 Mar 2011 07:30:14
Nigel Worthington has put his faith in youth by springing a major selection surprise for Friday's Euro 2012 qualifier against Serbia.
Worthington has opted to start with 18-year-old Wolves prospect Johnny Gorman and Hull's Corry Evans, 20, in midfield, while Craig Cathcart gets the nod ahead of veteran Stephen Craigan in defence.
With experienced duo Maik Taylor and Steven Davis already ruled out of the Group C clash at Belgrade's Crvena Zvezda Stadium, Worthington has left Craigan, Grant McCann, David Healy and Niall McGinn on the sidelines.
All four could have expected to start, while Gorman - who has yet to feature in the Wolves first team - would have anticipated a place on the bench rather than a first competitive start.
But Worthington delivered some strong words to those he left out after being disappointed by the 3-0 defeat to Scotland in the Carling Nations Cup.
"I have to stick to my word. If players can't be disciplined in the team role I said I would stick youngsters in and I've done it. Simple as that," he said.
"It's not a case of flexing my muscles. Look at the type of the player I was for Northern Ireland; I had okay ability but I had a lot of enthusiasm and desire. That's what I want to see Northern Ireland players give, great desire and great enthusiasm for the country.
"Sometimes you can have an indifferent performance and you live with that, but if it's happening on more than one occasion you have to look at it and say 'I'm putting my marker on this' because at the end of the day the buck stops with me.
"I said after the Scotland match in Dublin, if people couldn't do it or didn't want to do it then I would put youngsters in. Kids will listen to you, they'll do what you ask them to do, they'll give discipline and I'll go with that.
"Nobody can say they have not had an opportunity with me over the last three and a half, nearly four years."