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

More of the games that matter

Upgrade in minutes or watch with a NOW TV Day Pass.

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.

Fixtures

Friday, 27 March 2015
19:45
England v Lithuania  
Liechtenstein v Austria  
Macedonia v Belarus  
Moldova v Sweden  
Montenegro v Russia  
Slovakia v Luxembourg  
Slovenia v S Marino  
Spain v Ukraine  
Switzerlnd v Estonia  
Saturday, 28 March 2015
15:00
Kazakhstan v Iceland  

Footer 365

Champions League: Jose Mourinho hopes Chelsea beat Schalke to reach knockout stages

Jose Mourinho is keen for Chelsea to seal their place in the Champions League knockout stages with a win over Schalke.

Premier League: Manuel Pellegrini dismisses Messi rumours linking him with Manchester City

Manuel Pellegrini says reports linking Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi with Manchester City are just "rumours".

Champions League: Chelsea aim to secure top spot with Schalke win

Chelsea travel to Gelsenkirchen to take on Schalke on Tuesday looking for the win that will confirm top spot in Group G.

Mail Box

Is Anybody Still Saying 'Wenger In'?

Even the most sensible and loyal Wenger apologists are now saying that he should leave the club. We also have lots more on Brendan Rodgers and a Chelsea plea...

Equating Rodgers To Hodgson. Oh Dear Me.

It's a Mailbox many will have been waiting. Brendan Rodgers gets a little bit of a stick, but there is at least praise for Manchester United,Van Gaal, Palace and Tottenham...

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