Belfast Telegraph

David Healy: Sorry to say we can only blame ourselves

What a disappointing week it's been for Northern Ireland.

Two games away from home were always going to be tough but I honestly thought I'd be sitting down, writing this column talking about us edging ever closer to Euro 2008 qualification.

The gut-wrenching thing about the defeats in Latvia and Iceland is that we conceded really bad goals and if we're all being honest, only had ourselves to blame.

In my heart of hearts I would have to say we've blown our chances now. Of course we will battle until the end and we are still only three points behind Sweden but I don't want be giving any false hope to the fans; we've probably lost out now.

That is really difficult to say. This double-header promised so much but ultimately delivered very little.

Getting to Austria and Switzerland was never going to be easy but when you play like we did for three quarters of the two games then you're never going to help your chances.

Other teams will drop points in this group but we have an unbelievable task ahead if we are going to do it now.

The entire squad expected a win in Latvia last Saturday and in Iceland on Wednesday night.

I wouldn't say we were over confident, we just have a strong belief in the squad but it wasn't to be.

Our second half display in Reykjavik was easily the best we played throughout the two games.

I think we did enough to win the game but sometimes in football there is no justice and we have learnt that the hard way.

I was particularly gutted because I didn't play well in either game. In fact my performance in Riga was probably my worst in a Northern Ireland shirt and it couldn't have come at a worse time.

After the match I was so annoyed and frustrated because I am there to score goals and that never looked likely.

Going into the Iceland match I was pumped up and ready to make up for the Latvia nightmare but for whatever reason, again it just didn't happen.

I know it's not all down to me to score goals, and other lads are very capable of doing it, but I do feel a sense of responsibility when it comes to Northern Ireland.

When I have two off-nights I would hope someone else would be there to find the target but unfortunately, too many of us had nights to forget.

Hopefully that won't happen again for a long time because this group of young players have such a bright future in the game.

I want to help Northern Ireland get to where we should be and the more experienced members of the squad, like Maik Taylor, Keith Gillespie and Stephen Craigan will offer a lot of help to the younger guys.

I remember when I was first in the squad and I don't think I was playing with the confidence our younger players have and that will stand us in good stead.

Young lads like Michael McGovern and Tony Kane came into the squad this time and had to deal with a bit of baggage but they showed incredible commitment.

They were a credit to the squad. It was great to see them and they add more youth to what will hopefully be a very special group of players in years to come and make sure they make it to the top.

Hopefully i can take my frustration out on Wigan

After the misery of the international double header in the past week, it's back to the bread and butter on Saturday and hopefully I'll be in the Fulham side to play Wigan Athletic.

The past week has been very frustrating and tiring but Lawrie Sanchez understands better than most what international breaks are like.

But especially after our two defeats, I am really looking forward to getting our Premier League season back on track.

I didn't start our last league game against Tottenham as Lawrie thought I could do with a break but I am fit and raring to go this weekend.

It's been a strange start to the season for us. I think we've played very well in most games without getting the results we deserve but there comes a time when we have to out that right.

Wigan have made a great start to the season and I'm sure a lot of people were tipping them for relegation this season.

I tipped them to go down last season in this column and they only survived on the last day of the season but they look like they have learnt from their mistakes last year.

Chris Hutchins seems to be getting the best out of his players and their strikers have been in great form so far.

Antoine Sibierski has proved a few people wrong since being allowed to leave Manchester City and then Newcastle and alongside him Emile Heskey will be bursting with confidence after his recall to the England side.

He did very well by all accounts but hopefully we won't get too much joy out of our defenders.

This game might come a little too soon for Aaron Hughes to make his comeback but he is going in the right direction.

Northern Ireland have missed him and I think he would improve any side. He has yet to make his Fulham debut but we'll welcome him into the side with open arms.

Hopefully Wigan will feel the brunt on my frustration at an awful week - and I'm sure Chris Baird and Steven Davis would agree with me.

Quinn is reason for my goals

I was sad to hear James Quinn decided to hang up his boots this week.

Big Quinny played a massive role in Northern Ireland's rise to success and he has certainly played a massive part in my international career.

I remember being very nervous on my debut in Luxembourg but from that moment on we struck up a great relationship and I loved playing alongside him.

Although he wasn't lucky enough to score the same amount of goals as me, a lot of mine were down to him. He was my battering ram.

Quinny took a lot of the pressure off me in every match we played together.

But it wasn't just on the pitch that James had a massive influence on our squad.

He was a great lad to have in the dressing room and we all knew what playing for Northern Ireland meant to him. There was no one in our dressing room more proud to wear the green shirt and I know the fans also thought the world of him.

I read his quote in The Belfast Telegraph about wanting to be a fan if he wasn't playing at a high enough level to represent his country and that says everything about the man.

We'll miss you Quinny and I'm sure I speak for the rest of the lads when I wish you all the best of luck in whatever you choose to do now.

Belfast Telegraph


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