David Healy isn’t in Michael O’Neill’s plans for Northern Ireland’s clash with Russia on Friday week, but he could be given the opportunity to turn the clock back some 12-and-a-half years just a few days later.
The country’s record goalscorer is in O’Neill’s thinking for the second game of the World Cup double-header against Luxembourg four days later.
And given the fact that Healy (pictured) started his international career by bagging a brace against Luxembourg back in February 2000 O’Neill’s forward planning could be perfect.
Healy scored on his debut for Bury last Saturday — to follow on from making goalscoring bows for Port Vale, Leeds United, Fulham, Sunderland, Doncaster and Northern Ireland — and if that vein of form continues a speedy return to the Northern Ireland fold beckons.
“I spoke to David over the weekend,” revealed O’Neill, who has yet to start Healy since he became Northern Ireland boss.
“He played 60 minutes for Bury on Saturday and scored, which is great for him. It’s a good start for him to get off the mark so early.
“He hasn’t had a proper pre-season, he’s had one hour of football in four months and that’s not the preparation that is needed for international football.
“David knows that, but the other factor is that if we take David to Russia he would miss his club game on the Saturday so I am looking at things with the Luxembourg game in mind and we’ve discussed that.
“By that time he’ll hopefully have had two more games for his club and will be fitter and more game-ready than he is at this moment in time.”