Belfast Telegraph

Feeney puts hand up to take over from Lafferty

By Jonathan Bradley

Warren Feeney has assured under-fire boss Nigel Worthington that he can be the man to fill the void in attack presented by Kyle Lafferty’s suspension when Northern Ireland meet Italy tomorrow night in their final Euro 2012 qualifying game.

The Plymouth Argyle front-man ended his goal drought last month when he netted for the League Two side against Macclesfield last month and is hoping to get the nod to face the Azzurri.

The 30-year-old said: “I’m itching to start and it would be a great game to be involved in.

“Obviously it’s up to Nigel and I’m sure whoever is selected will do a good job.”

Lafferty’s absence poses a selection headache for Worthington and could see Feeney or David Healy lead the line, or even Chris Brunt pushed into a more advanced role.

Speaking of the Rangers striker’s absence, Feeney added: “It’s disappointing that Kyle won’t be on the plane with us.

“He’s enthusiastic and everyone knows he wants to do well but he’d been warned early on by the referee and still got a bit over-excited and picked up the yellow.”

“You have to remember he’s only young and he’ll learn from this.”

The suspension means the influential Lafferty will end the qualifying campaign having played more than 70 minutes in only one of Northern Ireland’s 10 games, a statistic that has played a large part in the side’s horrific run.

Feeney is under no illusions as to the size of the task facing Northern Ireland in Pescara.

“It’ll be a big ask but everybody who is fit and available will be wanting to see the campaign out.

“We’re down about the way it’s ended but we’ll look to stay strong and worry about what’s inside the dressing room not outside it.”

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