Northern Ireland v Slovenia: Jennings relishing Taylor and Camp duel
Northern Ireland’s most famous goalkeeper Pat Jennings is encouraged by the fact that there is now stiff competition for the number one shirt in Nigel Worthington’s squad.
Jennings took over from another legendary figure, Harry Gregg, when he made his international debut in the 1960s and saw off challenges from the likes of Iam McFaul, the late Jack McClelland and Jim Platt during 22 years as Northern Ireland’s number one.
Lee Camp’s international career has only just begun after he took over from the injured Maik Taylor for the 2-1 defeat in Serbia last Friday night.
The Nottingham Forest custodian will make his home debut against Slovenia in tonight’s Euro 2012 qualifier at Windsor Park and will then battle it out for possession of the gloves when Taylor returns to fitness.
“Maik Taylor has never let the team down. He’s been brilliant for Northern Ireland,” said Jennings.
“I know he’s out injured at the minute, but even if he was fit he can’t go on forever, so we need back-up.
“I’ve watched a few games that Lee Camp has played in and he’s done really well.
“For Northern Ireland to have him is a boost because we’ve never had a big pool of players to chose from.”
Taylor isn’t the only player Nigel Worthington is unable to select tonight.
Captain Aaron Hughes, midfielder Steve Davis and strikers David Healy and Kyle Lafferty are also out.
“It presents a real problem when one or two players are missing,” said Jennings.
“Even when I played it was hard when there were a couple of players picked up injuries and it hasn’t changed in the last 25 years.
“When players like George McCartney retire as well that doesn’t help.
“It just means you have to keep the production line going and try to bring in young players who you hope can do the job.”
Jennings won’t get to see tonight’s match — he is actually booked on a flight to Belfast from London this evening while the action is taking place at Windsor Park.
“I’ll hopefully see the game on television later on,” he said.
“At least I hope to see the goals — and hopefully there are some from Northern Ireland.”