Euro 2012: Northern Ireland boost as Vidic injured
Northern Ireland’s Euro Championship hopes were given a double boost today as Nigel Worthington’s squad prepared to head for for Friday’s behind-closed-doors showdown with Serbia in Belgrade.
They will travel boosted by the return to fitness of Rangers striker Kyle Lafferty — and in the knowledge they won’t now have to face Manchester United’s world class Serbian defender Nemanja Vidic.
Lafferty featured in yesterday’s League Cup final victory over Celtic after making a speedy recovery from a knee injury.
Manchester United defender Jonny Evans also links up with the squad today after returning to action at Old Trafford on Saturday.
Evans’ dismissal in a 1-0 win over Bolton now rules him out of the Manchester derby FA Cup semi-final at Wembley next month but his return to fitness is another lift boss Worthy.
Vidic will not feature for Serbia due to a calf injury.
“Coach Vladimir Petrovic spoke to Vidic and it's been decided that he should stay with his club Manchester United for further treatment,” a Serbian FA spokesman confirmed.
Birmingham City striker Nikola Zigic is also doubtful as he is recovering from a groin injury.
Northern Ireland will have just 240 fans at the game, by special permission of Uefa who ordered the lockout of home supporters after a Serb hooligan element rioted in Italy last year.
Those fans have been allowed to travel as they had pre-paid their trips and Irish FA officials have been given assurances by Serbian authorities that measures, including an armed police guard, have been put in place to guarantee their safety.