Belfast Telegraph

David Healy will reign supreme again

By Stuart McKinley

As I drove out of the Irish FA’s headquarters following yesterday’s Northern Ireland squad announcement Raymond Kennedy was driving in the opposite direction.

It’s only a matter of weeks since his era as President of the association came to an end and while there were loud calls for him to go and a huge vote of no confidence from the IFA Council, it was Kennedy’s own decision to resign.

If David Healy was allowed to decide on his international career he’d probably play until he’s no longer fit to lace a pair of boots.

Unfortunately for the Killyleagh-man there is someone else making the calls and right now he’s experiencing a new feeling. And it’s not one that he’ll be liking very much.

Nigel Worthington has left Healy out of the Northern Ireland squad for next week’s friendly against Morocco at Windsor Park — something which his predecessors Sammy McIlroy or Lawrie Sanchez never did.

McIlroy did leave the hitman out of the starting line-up once, but Healy was capped in every game of his reign.

Healy was unavailable five times while Sanchez was in charge — four of them friendlies. He started in the other 27 games of Sanchez’s era and scored 21 times in those matches.

It was Healy’s golden era. From August 2006 when he marked his 50th cap with a goal against Finland to November the following year he was on fire. Virtually everything he hit ended up in the net and there were some unforgettable strikes in there too.

Little wonder Sanchez took him to Fulham when his caretaker spell in charge at Craven Cottage became permanent in 2007.

It was a move Healy had been desperate for, the chance to prove himself in the Premier League and he started with a bang, netting on his debut against Arsenal.

Soon though Sanchez was gone and Healy’s stay on London lasted only a year. Sunderland offered a prolonged stay in the top flight and nobody can blame him for accepting. He wasn’t going to figure at Fulham and the queue to sign him wasn’t exactly long.

Signing for the Black Cats hasn’t brought him much luck. He must have run over one on his way to sign at the Stadium of Light because nothing has gone his way since moving to the north-east and he’s only scored one international goal in that time.

He has been desperate to move on, knowing that the international status which he cherishes was under threat, hence the reason why Healy has joined Doncaster Rovers on-loan. Scoring on his debut will be something of a two fingers up at Worthington — who informed the striker of his decision last week.

At 31 years old there’s life in Healy yet. He’s proved his doubters wrong before — yes, despite 35 goals in 84 caps he has them — and he’ll do it again.

Regular football at a high level will be a shot in the arm and although he has never doubted his own ability that strike on Saturday will reinforce that self-belief.

Worthington has laid down a challenge with the next international less than three months away.

And Healy would love to take out his frustrations on Scotland.

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