Belfast Telegraph

Healy demands positive approach in Riga showdown

Euro 2008 Qualifiers

By Steven Beacom

David Healy today called on his Northern Ireland team-mates to adopt a positive approach for their crucial European Championship qualifier against Latvia on Saturday.

Nigel Worthington's squad flew off to Riga today ahead of a double header which could well determine whether or not the Green and White Army will be going to Austria and Switzerland next year.

Revenge will be in the air in Reykjavik next Wednesday when Northern Ireland take on Iceland who hammered them 3-0 at Windsor Park in the first match of the campaign.

But before thinking about that, the focus is on Latvia.

Thanks to their 3-1 win over Liechtenstein last month, Healy and co are in second place in Group F two points behind Sweden and one ahead of Spain with five games remaining.

In years gone by, Northern Ireland would have been happy with a draw away to Latvia.

Not now.

"We have to be positive right from the kick-off," Healy told The Belfast Telegraph.

"The plan is to go to Latvia and win the game. Simple as that.

"We've put ourselves in with a real chance of qualifying with our recent form and we don't want to lose the opportunity.

"Latvia have had a bad run recently but I remember our match at Windsor Park last year when we beat them 1-0 and it was really tough so we have to be at our best."

Typically it was Healy, who grabbed the winner against Latvia back in October.

He has scored a remarkable 11 goals in the European Championship campaign so far making him the top marksman in the tournament.

"It's fantastic to score all those goals but if someone else scores a winner in Latvia, that will make me just as happy," added the Fulham forward, who in total has hit 31 goals at international level.

Unfortunately Damien Johnson and Tony Capaldi won't be in Riga to score any goals due to injury. No doubt they will watch the game on Sky TV. Also in Northern Ireland's group on Saturday night Spain travel to Iceland and Sweden host Denmark.

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