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Baird handed skipper's armband

Chris Baird is to captain Northern Ireland in the Euro 2012 qualifier against Serbia to mark his 50th international cap.

The Fulham player, 28, made his debut against Group C opponents Italy in 2003 and has become a mainstay of the side in the intervening years, featuring both in defence and midfield.

A statement from the Irish Football Association confirmed Baird will lead the side out at Belgrade's Crvena Zvezda Stadium ahead of Cottagers team-mate and regular national captain Aaron Hughes.

"The 50th cap is amazing, I didn't think I would get there but I am proud it has come around," he said. "I'm delighted, I'm honoured. Fifty caps for your country is good going and I'm privileged.

"I've had the captaincy before and lost both games but it is nice to captain the side.

"It's another great honour for me personally and it will be lovely to lead the side in Serbia."

Reflecting on his memories as a Northern Ireland player, Baird added: "All the great results over my time have been highlights, beating England, Spain, I could go on.

"It's been disappointing not to qualify from campaigns, that has been hard to take so it would be nice to qualify this time."

Northern Ireland go into their double header against Serbia and Slovenia, who come to Windsor Park on Tuesday, fourth in Group C on five points but have a game in hand on their qualification rivals.

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