Ferguson call-up blow for NI boss
Nigel Worthington has expressed his frustration after trying - and failing - to speak to Newcastle's Shane Ferguson about a call-up to the Northern Ireland squad.
Worthington attempted to contact the defender ahead of Friday's Euro 2012 qualifier against Estonia. The issue is complicated by suggestions earlier this year that Ferguson was considering switching his allegiance to the Republic of Ireland, but he has since returned to play for Northern Ireland Under-21s.
Worthington said: "I've been trying for the last 36-48 hours to get in contact with the boy to let him know I'd like to draft him into the squad. The club has been notified and we've had the medical records sent back to us, as we always do with players to see if there are any problems, but we've had no contact."
Ferguson has a senior cap to his name already after playing against Tuesday night's opponents Italy in a friendly two years ago.
As that was not a competitive fixture he is not yet tied to Northern Ireland, but would be if he played any part in the Group C double-header over the next few days.
Suggestions that a personality clash with Worthington, rather than a possible switch to the Republic, are behind Ferguson's elusiveness have also been aired. The manager, though, believes everything possible has been done and sounded frustrated when pressed about the issue.
"It beggars belief when you read in the press that people want to represent their country and when you give them the opportunity to do so there's no willingness, or manners, to say 'no, I don't want to be involved', or 'yes, I'm coming'," he said.
"I can only do what I've done. People at the Irish Football Association have done what they do and we can't do any more.
"We can't put hands on and literally drag people in. I think it's a great honour to represent your country, but I can't do any more."