David Healy’s strained relationship with Northern Ireland boss Nigel Worthington came to the surface yesterday when the Killyleagh man admitted he was “disappointed” to be left out of international squads.
Healy was overlooked for the Carling Nations Cup squad for battles with the Republic of Ireland and Wales and he was also frozen out of the friendly against Morocco last November.
Despite being Northern Ireland’s record goalscorer, finding the net 35 times in 85 matches, he hasn't scored since netting in the 4-0 win over San Marino in October, 2008.
The Morocco game was the first time Healy had been left off the teamsheet since his debut in 2000 and his lack of international game time has mirrored his troubles at club level where he has failed to secure regular first team action.
But Healy, who played in the 3-0 Carling Nations Cup defeat to Scotland, feels he can still do a job for his country.
“I put myself on the line where I wanted to play in this game,” he said. “Obviously I didn't get the chance.
“Other guys probably booked their holidays, knowing that they were going to be playing and didn't want to be a part of it and that's the only thing that disappointed me — not to be a part of that.
“It didn't matter to me if it was a friendly in Cyprus or Greece, Carling Nations Cup or a big game against England. I'd put myself on the line for Northern Ireland.”
Healy, who admitted his Northern Ireland career has given him “huge highs and huge lows”, wants to agree a new deal at Rangers but if boss Ally McCoist hands him a new contract there is a strong chance the 31-year-old will again struggle to secure first team football.
Worthington has made it very clear that Healy should join a club where he will play regularly but the striker will make his own decisions.
Frustrated at Worthington’s decision to leave him out of the international squad, Healy would only say “Obviously Nigel's got a job to do.”
There was speculation the striker was considering retiring from international football but Healy rubbished that story and it’s clearly a decision he would never take lightly.
He added: “Playing for Northern Ireland is always something I've wanted to do. I've thrived on it, I've loved being a part of it.”