Worthy warning for NI ace Healy

Nigel Worthington has sent a message to David Healy as Northern Ireland prepare to face Montenegro in a friendly match on Wednesday night

Last Updated: 10/08/10 at 16:34

Healy: Northern Ireland face Montenegro

Healy: Northern Ireland face Montenegro

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Worthington's wish list ahead of the Euro 2012 qualifiers would see Healy playing week in, week out.

Despite being the Irish's record goalscorer, the Sunderland striker is no longer assured of a place in the team.

That is because he is so far out of the picture at his club, with the situation showing no immediate sign of changing.

Healy now faces an anxious wait to see what unfolds when Northern Ireland face Montenegro in a warm-up match on Wednesday ahead of the opening qualifier against Slovenia next month.

Worthington said: "The situation with David is straightforward... he needs to play football. I have said that all along.

"It is not just about David, it is about other players. Sometimes that can be difficult and easier said and done.

"But David has not played enough first-team football. He's had 12 starts in two years. For a professional footballer to have that amount of starts and be trying perform at the very top level either Premiership or international, is a tough ask."

Northern Ireland boss Worthington also has more options in attack than he did a year ago.

Along with Healy, Kyle Lafferty, Martin Paterson, Warren Feeney and Rory Patterson are all vying for places.

Feeney joined Oldham from Cardiff in the summer while Patterson, once on FC United's books, is now with Plymouth Argyle.

Worthington said: "Kyle is young and still learning but has good experience at a very young age.

"Feeney had a tough year last year with injury and was not playing. So hopefully he is moving forward while Rory has got a move into full-time football, which will be good for him.

"Martin Paterson we can use on the right and up front. So maybe a year ago looking at two or three strikers all of a sudden were at looking at four or five, which is good."

Worthington confirmed that Motherwell defender Stephen Craigan will retain the captain's armband.

It was widely expected Maik Taylor would replace the injured Aaron Hughes as skipper.

Instead Craigan will again lead the team out - when he wins his 49th cap - as he did during the two-match mini tour in the summer against Turkey and Chile.

Birmingham goalkeeper Taylor will start the match and Worthington said: "Stephen is heading towards his 50th cap and with Aaron not being here, it is nice to share the captaincy around.

"Stephen has been the captain in the last two games and did very well in the role. I spoke to Maik and he had no issues with it at all.

"He is delighted for Stephen. It is good for the group that different players can have that experience.

"I'm the fortunate one, it really could be one of many but we know Aaron is the captain of the team and if somebody gets the chance to fill in for him then fine."

Craigan said: "It is nice, of course, but maybe in four or five years' time it will be really nice to look back on.

"It is also nice to be given a little bit of responsibility but I don't think I can give too much guidance to Steven Davis, Jonny Evans and players like that but I'm just fortunate the manager has asked me.

"I am dedicated to what I do and I don't think you have to go shout and roar. Maybe I will be able to pass on a little bit of information."

Montenegro were anxious for the fixture as they face England as well as Wales in the qualifiers and Worthington added: "I want my team to go and perform, so they are in the right state of mind for Slovenia."

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