Belfast Telegraph

Monday 24 November 2014

Maik Taylor still the man for Northern Ireland, says Pat Jennings

Pat Jennings has no fear that Maik Taylor’s lack of club action will have a negative impact on Northern Ireland’s challenge to qualify for the European Championships.

And the goalkeeping legend knows exactly what he is talking about, having found himself in the same position as Taylor before playing in the 1986 World Cup finals in Mexico.

Taylor has 85 caps to his name, but while the 39-year-old is unlikely to catch Jennings, who sits on a Northern Ireland record of 119, he will be Nigel Worthington’s first choice for tomorrow night’s Euro 2012 qualifier against deposed World Champions Italy at Windsor Park.

That’s despite the fact that Taylor has made just two Carling Cup appearances for Birmingham City this season as he finds himself cast in the role of back-up goalkeeper to Ben Foster.

“I’d only played occasionally the year before and in the summer before the World Cup in Mexico,” said Jennings.

“I’d turned 40 and I thought that was the end for me. Many people did.

“I played in the reserves for both Arsenal and Tottenham the next season to keep in shape, but I only played about half a dozen games.

“I was still playing for Northern Ireland and went out and kept three clean sheets in the last three World Cup qualifiers away to Turkey, Romania and England to help get us there.

“Maik Taylor is experienced and he is still good enough.

“He hasn’t played much, but that won’t be a problem.

“If he was an outfield player it might be a concern, but he’ll still be training at a high level every day and he is more than capable of doing a job for Northern Ireland.”

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