Nigel Worthington is a happy man because his players are happy. And few are happier at the moment than his star men David Healy and Steven Davis — the dynamic duo who humiliated England is one stunning and unforgettable moment on September 7, 2005.
But the summer of 2008 has been a long one for our two heroes. David Healy’s future at Fulham was always uncertain but now he has another opportunity to show Premier League audiences what he can do at Sunderland.
Davis has at last sealed his dream move from Fulham to Rangers, allowing him to improve as a player in the Scottish Premier League, but even the tedious Cristiano Ronaldo transfer saga ended long before Davo could resolve his future.
Both men are now focused on future glory with their new club and country and regular first team appearances will keep them sharp for international disputes.
“I’m delighted for both the boys — it is pleasing for me to see them complete their moves,” said Worthington.
“Steven had a wonderful second half of last season with Rangers and it is great for them and him that this deal has been done.
“He is a player of real quality who is worth his weight in gold. A key player for us, I like to see him playing with confidence and freedom, expressing himself like we know he can.
“This is also a fantastic time for David (Healy) and hopefully he can go from strength to strength at Sunderland. I’m sure he has a new lease of life and I hope the move will turn out to be a very good one for him.”
Worthington’s midfield has a young and fresh look to it with Michael O’Connor (21) and Dean Shiels (23) ready and willing to answer the manager’s call.
“I have no concerns at all about the number of young players in the squad,” added the former Northern Ireland skipper.
“The young players we have like Jonny (Evans), Ryan (McGivern), Michael (O’Connor), Sammy (Clingan), Dean (Shiels), Martin (Paterson), Kyle (Lafferty) and Peter (Thompson) are all good players.
“We have a nice crop of young players backed up by experienced players and that shows the progress we are making together as a squad. It’s important the young players get a feel for international football and they can all thrive in it.”
Northern Ireland squad: Goalkeepers: M Taylor (Birmingham City), A Mannus (Linfield), J Tuffey (Partick Thistle). Defenders: C Baird (Fulham), S Craigan (Motherwell), G McAuley (Ipswich Town), J Evans (Manchester United), M Duff (Burnley), R McGivern (Manchester City), G McCartney (West Ham), A Hughes (Fulham). Midfielders: S Davis (Rangers), K Gillespie (Sheffield United), M O'Connor (Crewe Alexandra), S Clingan (Norwich City), C Brunt (West Bromwich Albion), D Shiels (Hibernian). Forwards: D Healy (Sunderland), P Thompson (Stockport County), W Feeney (Cardiff City - on loan at Dundee United), M Paterson (Burnley), K Lafferty (Rangers).