Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland v Serbia: Boss has tough calls, admits Clingan

Sammy Clingan feels Northern Ireland boss Nigel Worthington now has a tough job on his hands — naming his starting eleven for the Euro 2012 qualifier against Serbia on Friday, September 2.

The mesmerising performance of Paddy McCourt in the 4-0 drubbing of the Faroe Islands will reward the Celtic winger with a starting role but Niall McGinn also impressed when he leapt off the bench.

Emerging from the treatment room will be Kyle Lafferty and Warren Feeney while Chris Brunt has served his suspension.

Northern Ireland may not have a huge pool of talent to select from but there is real competition for places in this squad.

Coventry City skipper Clingan played a part in Steven Davis’ stunning goal but he knows Worthington has some thinking to do ahead of the Serbia clash.

“We will definitely be stronger for that game, there will be more competition for places,” said Clingan. “It will be a tough one for Nigel when it comes to naming his starting eleven.

“That’s what you want as a manager. I’ve just been speaking to Kyle (Lafferty) and he’s not that far off so hopefully he’ll be back in the next squad.”

It was a night full of surprises featuring Aaron Hughes’ first international goal, a sublime finish from Davis and McCourt’s magical double but the most important stats were the three points secured in Qualifying Group C.

“It was a great win and a very important result for us. We spoke before the game of how important the three points were,” added Clingan.

“The four goals were a big bonus and there were some very good goals in there, especially the second, third and fourth.

“We started quite well, in fifth gear, but then dropped off a bit. To be fair, Nigel let us know that at half-time and the boys stepped up things after the break.

“At 1-0 it was nervy but Davo’s goal put us back on the front foot and we thoroughly deserved the three points.”

But Clingan and Co. will know that Serbia will be a much tougher nut to crack next month.

“We played well for 45 minutes against Serbia at their own patch so hopefully we can perform well for 90 minutes at Windsor,” added the 27-year-old.

“We know they are a good outfit with good individual players but we just have to believe in ourselves and hopefully get the three points.”

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