Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 29 November 2014

Wright’s still a big fan of Blayney after Morocco howler

Alan Blayney’s howler against Morocco should not derail his international career.

That’s the view of former Northern Ireland number one Tommy Wright who acknowledges “we all make mistakes”.

Blayney gifted Morocco the opening goal at Windsor Park when Arsenal's Marouane Chamakh knocked his attempted clearance into the net and not even a late leveller from Rory Patterson could put a smile back on his face.

Wright, who brought Blayney from Bohemians to Ballymena United when he was in the Showgrounds dugout, hopes the big man has another horrible day at the office tomorrow when Linfield visit New Grosvenor Stadium but his heart went out to him when a lapse of concentration was cruelly punished at the international venue.

The 29-year-old former Southampton keeper was brought back down to earth with a thud after celebrating the birth of his baby son but Wright expects the Belfast man to exorcise the Moroccan ghost.

“Alan is in the Northern Ireland squad on merit and if we are going to start casting people adrift if they make mistakes then Pat Jennings would never have won his 119 caps, Maik Taylor wouldn’t have made it to 87 and I would not have made 31 appearances,” said Wright.

“We all make mistakes but you get on with it, you can’t dwell on them. There are two things you must do when it happens — recover in that game and Alan did that when he made a tremendous fingertip save. Secondly, you make up for it in the next game by keeping a clean sheet if you can.

“When goalkeepers make a bad mistake a goal is often the outcome and that’s just the nature of the job. But Alan has been in tremendous form, he is a great lad and he will bounce back and show everyone what a top keeper he is.

“Northern Ireland isn’t blessed with a great number of keepers to choose from and Alan has earned his place in the squad.”

Blayney may be anticipating a busy afternoon tomorrow as the Whites have been the surprise package of the season, climbing to fourth in the Carling Premiership table.

Cliftonville were put to the sword at Solitude last weekend and the ominous sign for Linfield is that one of their former heroes, Glenn Ferguson, is back in the old routine of torturing opponents.

Supporters and team-mates believe 41-year-old ‘Spike’ can even play on next season but Wright said he would never put any pressure on his former Northern Ireland team-mate.

“In my view, Glenn has become an even better player in the last season and a half,” added Wright.

“We agreed he would have a player-coach role for this season and Glenn had made his mind up that this would be his last season as a player.

“We respect that decision.

“If he was to come to me and say ‘I want to play for another year’ then I would welcome that but I think he has made his mind up and I’ll not put him under any pressure to stay with us.”

Wright was instrumental in securing the club a new sponsorship deal with Lisburn company Smiley Monroe.

The deal is for this campaign with further options in the pipeline.

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