N Ireland v Serbia preview

Northern Ireland boss Nigel Worthington is hoping Paddy McCourt and Kyle Lafferty will be fit for Friday's Euro 2012 qualifier against Serbia.

Last Updated: 01/09/11 at 19:00   

McCourt: Injury worry for Worthington

McCourt: Injury worry for Worthington

The visit of Serbia to Windsor Park is pivotal to Worthington's hopes of securing second spot in Group C and calf injuries to both players have given him a serious headache.

Rangers striker Lafferty would be a certain starter after missing the 4-0 win over the Faroe Islands with a hernia problem, while Celtic playmaker McCourt lit up that game with a man-of-the-match performance and two memorable goals.

Worthington refused to rule the pair out but conceded that the outlook was not positive.

"Time is starting to catch up with them a little bit but we'll carry on working with them on a continuous basis and see where we're at," he said.

"The injury situation with them is becoming a little bit difficult but we'll have to see.

"It's an unfortunate situation that the two boys have picked up these knocks and with 24 hours to go time is getting tight. At this moment in time it's all ifs, buts and maybes."

With Derby's Jamie Ward already ruled out of the original 23-man squad, Worthington could be left short of attacking options.

In Lafferty's absence he would be likely to start with record scorer David Healy up front, despite his lack of playing time at Rangers and no international goals since October 2008.

Millwall's Josh McQuoid and Plymouth's Warren Feeney are also on duty, with Chris Brunt back from suspension to offer a creative option from midfield.

Northern Ireland go into the game one point ahead of Serbia in third place but are in no doubt about their opponents' quality.

Vladimir Petrovic's side came from behind to win the reverse fixture in Belgrade 2-1 and boast a number of high-profile players such as Dejan Stankovic, Branislav Ivanovic, Milan Jovanovic and Zoran Tosic in their ranks.

While three of the major stars - Manchester United captain Nemanja Vidic, Juventus' Milos Krasic and Birmingham forward Nikola Zigic - are all absent for this match, Worthington expects the toughest of tests.

"We know the quality Serbia as a group possess, their quality is proven if you look at the clubs they are at throughout Europe," he said.

"There is a lot of ability there, a lot pace, a lot of strength.

"They're in a very fortunate situation that if they lose a good player or take a player off for whatever reason, they can bring a player as good or even better on.

"More often than not if we take a player off we're sticking a younger one in.

"They've got a strong pool of players and it's about how you deal with that.

"But we have to match them, which we are capable of doing.

"We proved for 45 minutes in Belgrade that we are capable of doing that."

Football365 Facebook Fan Page

The Football365 fan page is a great place to meet like minded people, have football related discussions and make new friends.

Sky Bet

    • Retrieving latest Sky Bet odds

Fixtures

Sunday, 07 September 2014
17:00
Denmark v Armenia  
Georgia v Rep Ireland  
Hungary v N Ireland  
19:45
Faroe Islands v Finland  
Germany v Scotland  
Gibraltar v Poland  
Greece v Romania  
Portugal v Albania  
Monday, 08 September 2014
17:00
Russia v Liechtenstein  
19:45
Austria v Sweden  

Footer 365

Brentford promoted, Wolves hit six

Brentford sealed promotion from League One with a 1-0 win over Preston, coupled with defeats for Rotherham and Leyton Orient.

Bournemouth beaten, Reading slip

Bournemouth and Reading both suffered blows to their Championship play-off hopes after defeats to Sheffield Wednesday and Wigan respectively.

Transfer news: Leicester boss Nigel Pearson focused on football rather than targets

Nigel Pearson claims he is bemused by media speculation linking Leicester City to a number of transfer targets.

Mail Box

Kieran's Not The Only One Keeping Notes

Another chap in the mailbox has been keeping notes on comments made by optimistic Man United fans. Plus, Garey Vance is offering a double-or-quits on his new tattoo...

Mignolet Is The Reason For Liverpool Flying

Mignolet's bad kicking is the reason for Liverpool's success, whilst one man keep notes on F365 mails. Plus England excitement, Arteta and a bad Walsall experience...

© 2014 British Sky Broadcasting Ltd. All Rights Reserved A Sky Sports Digital Media property