Worthy will bank on SPL stars

Nigel Worthington believes the high number of his SPL-based players can only be a good thing for Northern Ireland ahead of the Scotland game.

Last Updated: 08/02/11 at 18:35

Worthington: His team will have a strong SPL presence

Worthington: His team will have a strong SPL presence

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Worthington's side could conceivably contain more Scottish Premier League players than the Scottish side whom they face in the Carling Nations Cup game at the Aviva Stadium on Wednesday night.

Inverness goalkeeper Jonathan Tuffey, Aberdeen defender Rory McArdle, Motherwell skipper Stephen Craigan, Rangers' Steven Davis and David Healy and Celtic's Paddy McCourt and Niall McGinn are all in with a chance of starting.

The Irish squad would have had even more of a tartan flavour had Rangers striker Kyle Lafferty not withdrawn with a throat problem.

"If Kyle is fit then we have seven players or eight players in our squad who play in the SPL," said Worthington. "That is a good third of the squad who regularly play their football in Scotland and I am delighted with that.

"I know Scottish football is a good standard and Scotland have a lot of good players.

"I have watched them on DVDs and I know Craig Levein will want to do well.

"But like everyone else, this is a tournament that we want to win and it's interesting that the old Home Nations tournament is back again in some ways.

"Players are playing against players they play against every other week or who are at their own clubs so that gives it a little edge.

"Getting players fit is our problem."

Worthington has seen Jonny Evans and Warren Feeney become the latest to drop out, both ruled out with ankle injuries.

"Due to the injuries we will have a young team out and we might give a few debuts to some of them, if not starting then certainly during the course of the game," Worthington said.

"I made my Northern Ireland debut away in 1984 on a wet and windy night in Wales and it was great to be part of the team that won the trophy that year.

"I always said that if you have the chance to play international football then you should grasp it with both hands."

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