Belfast Telegraph

Davis will bounce back from Windsor heartache, says Northern Ireland boss Worthington

By Stuart McKinley

Nigel Worthington has backed Steven Davis to quickly come to terms with his Windsor Park horror show last night.

One of Northern Ireland’s most consistent performers since making his international debut six years ago, Davis unfortunately turned from hero to villain as it was his dreadful mistake which gave Serbia a 1-0 victory and left Worthington’s side’s qualification hopes hanging by a thread.

Davis produced a woeful back-pass in the 67th minute to hand Marko Pantelic a one-on-one opportunity he never looked likely to miss.

But Worthington paid tribute to Davis’ performances in the past and said the Rangers ace will bounce back from the disappointment.

“It's a cruel way to lose a game of football,” he said.

“It's hugely disappointing for one of our top-class professionals in Steven Davis.

“You look at all the good things Steven has done for this team in the last four years and you give him all the support you can. But he's a seasoned professional, he knows the game and he'll be able to deal with it and go again.

“That's football. It does happen and unfortunately it happened to us tonight.”

Kyle Lafferty and Paddy McCourt missed the match with calf injuries and will not travel to Estonia for Tuesday's match, while Sammy Clingan is a doubt after pulling out with illness.

In the absence of those players, Worthington was pleased by his team's resilient display and hailed goalkeeper Lee Camp for the saves which would have been worth an important point had Davis not erred.

“We played a very, very good side and they had a lot of possession, which you expect,” he said.

“But we tweaked one or two things at half-time and the players were excellent in the second half. We had a lot of play, created one or two half chances and I couldn't fault the effort over the course of the game.

“They put in a real shift and I'm gutted for everyone.

“Lee kept us in the game at times and, if not for the short back-pass, we could have come out with a point but it wasn’t to be.”

As well as injuries, Worthington must also deal with suspensions for Jonny and Corry Evans, both of whom picked up second yellow cards tonight and will be absent against Estonia.

With Italy running away with the group despite a surprisingly narrow win over the Faroe Islands tonight, Serbia manager Vladimir Petrovic saw his side move into pole position for second place.

They have had an up and down campaign but now have the chance to close out a play-off spot, leaving Petrovic content with three points, regardless of how they came.

“We played very well,” he said.

“We missed so many chances in the first half but we really wanted to score the first goal. We finally did that and I am satisfied.”

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