Belfast Telegraph

Nigel Worthington’s boys a stepping stone

Montenegro manager Zlatko Kranjcar believes that Northern Ireland will prove a useful stepping stone, as they prepare for attempting to shock England in the Euro 2012 qualifiers.

“My wish and desire is to achieve victory, which will bring us confidence before the start of the qualifying campaign,” he said.

Montenegro take on England at Wembley in October, but have lost their last three games.

Kranjcar (right), however, is confident that they will beat Northern Ireand, which will give them the belief they’ll need to shock the English.

“In the event of losing the mood will be worse, but I am convinced that we can overcome Northern Ireland,” he said

Northern Ireland are sure to be in for a tough examination tomorrow night.

The Montenegrins’ main threat will come from Roma’s explosive striker Mirko Vucinic.

The Montenegro captain has attracted attention from Manchester City and has scored against both Chelsea and Manchester United in the Champions’ League.

Vucinic hit 19 goals for Roma last season and was a vital member of the team which finished runners-up to Jose Mourinho’s all-conquering Inter Milan last season.

If Northern Ireland can keep him quiet, they’ll be halfway to keeping out Montenegro.

Another player Nigel Worthington will have to keep an eye on will be Sporting Lisbon’s Simon Vukcevic.

The 24-year-old midfielder is an exciting prospect and is sure to cause the Northern Ireland back four problems.

Montenegro is the youngest nation in international football, having only gained independence from Serbia in 2006.

They played their first competitive internationals in the qualifying for the 2010 World Cup.

Although they only won one of these qualifiers, against Georgia, they didn’t disgrace themselves and with the talent at their disposal, they won’t be a pushover for England or Wales.

Not to mention Northern Ireland in Podgorica tomorrow.

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