Belfast Telegraph

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.

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