Northern Ireland boss Nigel Worthington attempted to put a brave face on things after Northern Ireland’s 3-0 thumping by Scotland last night.
His depleted side, hampered by withdrawals and unavailability, got off to a miserable start in the Carling Nations Cup but Worthington believes positives can be taken into the Euro 2012 qualifying campaign, which resumes with games against Serbia and Slovenia next month.
“There were 10 players missing that would normally be in the group,” he explained.
“That lets you see other players and I thought the younger players did very well.
“There were some situations where players maybe didn't want to get hurt, from the club point of view, but that is a million-dollar question. I can't do anything about that. You learn about your players, so it is a worthwhile exercise.
“We are disappointed with the defeat and the performance but you learn, you never stop.
“No matter how dull or dark a defeat is, there are always positives.
“I am one of those who sees the glass half-full, not half-empty.
“But credit to Scotland — they did what we normally do and we'll be looking to do that in Serbia.
“They got tackles in, closed down quickly and broke quickly.”
Worthington also confirmed that George McCartney, who quit international football by text message on Sunday, had been in touch with him to explain his position in the days since.
He said: “The situation is straightforward.
“George McCartney sent a text message to one of my coaching staff to say he no longer wished to play international football.
“At some stage someone must have had a word with him to say it might be a good idea to speak to me, so I got a call from him on Monday morning. That was the end of it.
“He has tried to contact me a few times since but I have not accepted the calls because he doesn't want to play for his country.
“That is his decision and as far as I am concerned the matter is closed.”
Scotland manager Craig Levein felt his players had put his words into action after overpowering Worthy’s men.
Levein said: “We played very well. I have been talking constantly about players at their clubs playing a very high standard and how much improvement there has been in a lot of players in the last year.
“But it is one thing me talking about it. It is important the players take that onto the pitch and prove I am not talking a lot of rubbish.”
Levein felt his team gelled well on the field and was impressed more with the workrate of all the players than any individual performance.
He added: “The fact we played as a team was the most pleasing thing.
“Every player on the pitch worked their socks off to help each other.
“That for me is invaluable. We can have good individual performances but the actual willingness to do the hard work, the work without the ball, was the most pleasing part of the game.
“I have been watching them play week in, week out for their clubs and tonight was about a performance that was reminiscent of a good club performance. To that end I got everything I wished for.”