Belfast Telegraph

Door isn't closed on Carroll: Worthy

By Mark McIntosh

Roy Carroll has assured Northern Ireland boss Nigel Worthington he is ready to hop onto a plane to answer any SOS call this week.

The Rangers keeper has withdrawn for the Northern Ireland squad for the crucial Euro 2008 qualifiers against Latvia and Iceland to concentrate on his club career but Worthington has insisted the door is very much still open for his international career.

Celtic's Michael McGovern has been drafted into the squad as cover for Taylor and Alan Mannus but Carroll is on stand-by.

Worthington insists the ex-Manchester United and West Ham custodian is in his plans and he would have no qualms about playing him should number one keeper, Taylor, suffer an injury.

"If I need Roy at any stage over the next two games I will call him up and he will play," revealed Worthington.

"Due to the importance of the situation in our group at the moment, I think I would have to bring Roy in as he already has a lot of experience in pressure games.

" He has stressed to me that he wants the door kept open on his international career but at the moment I will support him in any way I can."

Carroll's career has somewhat stalled in recent years, following his departure from Old Trafford.

After a largely unsuccessful spell at West Ham, the 29-year old Fermanagh man is now trying to re-build his career at boyhood heroes Rangers.

But after starting the season as deputy to Allan McGregor, he has taken time-out on his Northern Ireland career - with the best wishes of the international boss, Worthington.

" I had a chat with Roy before the Liechtenstein game and he thought he needed to focus on his club career," added Worthington.

"He's looking to get his career back on track and I have told him I will help him in any way I can.

"He is quite prepared to give a little back and he is ready to step into the void in the case of an emergency.

" When people need support it is up to those around them to give it and that's what I plan to do for Roy.

"He is very proud to play for Northern Ireland and hopefully if he can get his club career going, it will give him the spring-board for a return at international level."

Meanwhile, Worthington has revealed Damien Johnson is highly unlikely to figure for Northern Ireland in either Latvia or Iceland.

The Birmingham City skipper suffered a hamstring injury in pre-season and although the knock is healing, the Group F double-header will come too soon.

Aaron Hughes is hopeful of playing in Iceland but will miss Saturday's clash in Riga due to an ankle injury.

Cardiff City defender Tony Capaldi also picked up a strain at the weekend and is unlikely to travel tomorrow.

"Damien is quite a way off at the moment and he will not be ready in time.

"He very frustrated at the moment because the injury is healing slowly and he is raring to go.

"Aaron Hughes will hopefully be available to us for the Iceland game next Wednesday although Tony Capaldi is a serious doubt for the trip after getting injured on Saturday playing for Cardiff City at Norwich."

Belfast Telegraph


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