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Worthington will not give up Euro 2012 hope
Published : 30 Mar 2011 07:30:13
Northern Ireland manager Nigel Worthington believes "the door is open" to Euro 2012 qualification despite his team taking just a point from their last two Group C matches.
A battling defeat in Serbia on Friday was followed up on Tuesday night with a goalless draw at home to Slovenia. Worthington had dreamed of taking six points from the back-to-back matches and had realistic designs on four, but he draw between Serbia and Estonia means Northern Ireland remain in the hunt for second place.
"I think it's pretty much the same as it was before now," said Worthington. "The fact that the other sides have drawn too keeps the door right open for us. How many points will we need? That's the million-dollar question."
He added: "I said at the outset, before anyone had kicked a ball in this group, that everyone was capable of taking points off everyone else and so it has proved up to now.
"That isn't going to change in the next six months and it will continue to happen. We have to keep solid, try to win our game in hand and go on from there.
"We've got a good point and we've lost one out of five which is not bad. We'd have loved to get the win and really tighten that gap but it's another point and the game in hand we have is going to be a big game for us now."
The picture could have looked significantly brighter had Chris Brunt managed to stab home Corry Evans' cross in the 80th minute.
Defeat would have been a slightly harsh result on the visitors but Worthington was left disappointed as West Brom man Brunt just fell short after lunging across the turf with the goal gaping.
"I've just told the lads that for all their efforts over the last two games they haven't got their rewards," said Worthington. "That's football, but on another night or if Brunty had another half an inch on his studs, we'd have scored.
"Slovenia had a lot of possession but we had two, maybe three, great chances to score in the last 10 minutes."