Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 24 September 2014

David Healy: It’s Windsor, of course we can do it

Northern Ireland's Gareth McAuley
In Pictures: Northern Ireland v San Marino
Northern Ireland's Gareth McAuley

Here we go again then. Another crunch game at Windsor Park. We’ve had loads of them in recent years.

And more often than not we have produced the goods.

We enter this World Cup qualifier with Poland tomorrow on the back of an important win.

You may say it was only San Marino, but any victory gives you confidence so we’ll kick-off in a positive frame of mind.

Obviously it would have been better for the manager Nigel Worthington to have all the players available but we have people in the squad who can replace the likes of the missing Kyle Lafferty, Martin Paterson, George McCartney and Steve Davis.

Jonny Evans could come in for George at left back. He started his Northern Ireland career there and he’s such a good defender he could play anywhere along the back line.

Steve Davis is a class midfielder, but Grant McCann has shown he can deliver in the centre of the park and he has become a real goalscoring threat while Warren Feeney will relish the challenge of playing up front instead of Kyle or Martin.

I enjoy playing in attack with Warren and have actually played some of my best games for Northern Ireland alongside him.

He gives you a tremendous work rate, commitment and a real will to win.

We’ll need that tomorrow because Poland will be tough. They are a typical eastern European team, big and strong with good technical ability. They may not have too many household names, but their players play in top leagues around the world and they will be extremely hard to beat.

Five years ago they rolled up at Windsor and amid lots of hype, we were supposed to sweep them aside.

It didn’t work out that way and they hammered us 3-0.

We can’t allow the same thing to happen again.

With what we have achieved in the last few years, especially at home, there is a lot of expectation now when it comes to us playing games like this.

But we’re ready for that.

We’re desperate to keep our World Cup dream alive and know what is required.

We have to be at our very best, right from the first whistle.

We also have to believe - that has been so important in our big wins in the past.

We should remember we are Northern Ireland, we are playing in front of the best fans in the world at Windsor Park where we can beat anyone.

On a personal note, though I don’t need any incentive to do well for Northern Ireland, my children Taylor and Jude are coming over from England with my wife Emma to see the match.

The thought of that makes me feel good. Hopefully we’ll all be feeling great on Saturday night. If we are firing on all cylinders we can get the result everyone is looking for.

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