Belfast Telegraph

Friday 22 August 2014

Northern Ireland players can seal date with Italy: Worthington

Nigel Worthington is using the incentive of an appearance against World champions Italy to motivate Northern Ireland’s next generation of international stars.

The international boss will lead a B squad into a friendly against Scotland on Wednesday week — and the reward for anyone who stands out is likely to be a place in the squad for the senior friendly against the Italians on June 6.

A number of established international regulars will be absent from the game in Italy — which has still to be officially confirmed because a venue has yet to be decided upon.

Players on the fringes of senior recognition will be given an opportunity to shine.

And while the likes of Ryan McGivern and Celtic duo Pat McCourt and Niall McGinn are already regulars in the full international panel, the door could well open for others, such as Manchester United teenager Corry Evans — brother of Jonny.

"If they perform well against Scotland, they could well be in my thoughts to face Italy,” said Worthington. "I would expect one or two vacancies then as some senior players won’t be available through family commitments with having a short break this summer."

The friendly in Italy, followed by a home game with Israel in August, will give Worthington the chance to prepare his players for three decisive games in September and October when World Cup qualification will be decided.

Northern Ireland currently top their group, but have two tough away assignments in Poland and the Czech Republic.

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