Gillespie aiming to go top of group with 'vital' Iceland win
Keith Gillespie has declared himself fit and willing to revive Northern Ireland's campaign to reach Euro 2008.
The Sheffield United winger returned to training yesterday after a knee problem, as did record scorer David Healy and Jonny Evans. Healy and Evans suffered minor injuries, like Gillespie, to calf and ankle in the defeat by Latvia. Now the trio are on the mend and ready to face Iceland today when victory would take them to the top of qualifying Group F.
Set to win his 78th cap, Gillespie cannot wait to put matters right after the shock setback in Riga. The only consolation was that Sweden and Spain drew against Iceland and Denmark respectively.
Gillespie admitted: "We got out of jail. When you look at the other results they were not too bad. Having a game so soon gives us a chance to put things right."
The squad and the coaching staff, led by the manager Nigel Worthington, held an inquest into the Latvia defeat and Gillespie said: "There was constructive criticism. It is up to him [Worthington] to tell us if we are not playing well, but we are all pulling in the same direction."
Northern Ireland suffered a 3-0 defeat to Iceland in their first game of the qualifying campaign and Gillespie knows they can ill afford a repeat. "They have been able to get some good results," he said. "We have got to be better than we were against Latvia. We know three points are vital."