Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 16 September 2014

McCann hungry for more goals

He's Northern Ireland’s leading goalscorer in the current World Cup campaign and with a crucial qualifier against Poland at Windsor Park on Saturday he’s hungry for more.

No, it’s not David Healy. Nor is it Kyle Lafferty.

The man with the most potent boots in Nigel Worthington's squad at the moment is none other than Scunthorpe United midfielder Grant McCann who just six months ago wondered if he would ever pull on a green shirt again.

Now, the 28-year-old believes he is in the form of his life and is desperate to be involved in his fourth successive competitive international when the Poles come to Belfast at the weekend — which would be the longest run he’s ever had in the international team.

And all that matters to McCann is getting the three all-important points to keep the dream of qualifying for the World Cup finals in South Africa next summer alive into the autumn.

“We want the three points from this game. We have to win our home games if we are going to qualify and winning is all that matters,” said McCann.

“We have two home games now, against Poland and then Slovenia, and the manager has already spoken about going for the full six points.

“I wouldn’t say that it’s over for us as far as the World Cup is concerned if we don’t get all six points, but it would make it very difficult for us to qualify and we need to start beating the top teams.

“The Poles are a good side so we know it is going to be tough, but we have turned over some good sides in the past — particularly at Windsor Park — and we know we can do it again.”

McCann’s involvement in those ‘big’ wins hasn’t been as major as he would have liked.

Lawrie Sanchez didn’t bring him back into the squad until after the famous victory over England in September 2005 and he spent the entire 90 minutes of the 3-2 triumph over Spain a year later watching from the bench.

He did play a key role when Sweden were beaten 2-1 at Windsor Park six months later, starting a competitive international for the first — and as it turned out only — time under Sanchez.

McCann was overlooked by Worthington in his first match in charge and then faded from the international scene until injuries handed him his chance against Slovenia last October. That was a bad night all-round when the home side scored two late goals, but four days later McCann sparked a new phase of his career with his first international goal in a 4-0 win over San Marino.

For a boy who grew up a short distance from Windsor Park it was dream-come-true stuff.

“It is great to be back playing for Northern Ireland and even better to score,” said McCann, who also scored against San Marino last month.

“It was a great feeling to score at Windsor with all my family there. I feel confident I can score more and I feel my form at the minute is as good as it’s ever been.”

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