Belfast Telegraph

Hughes backs Nigel to stay

By Graham Luney

Nigel Worthington is the man to guide Northern Ireland to the 2010 World Cup Finals in South Africa.

That's the view of Fulham and Northern Ireland skipper Aaron Hughes, who is waiting to hear whether Worthy will agree a fresh deal with the Irish FA.

IFA chief-executive Howard Wells and president Raymond Kennedy met yesterday and were expected to rubber stamp a new deal for the ex-Norwich City chief.

And Hughes will give the announcement his blessing.

"It's important that the right man is in place to start planning for the future and Nigel has earned the chance to maintain the progress we have shown," said the Cookstown man.

"The good results against Sweden and Denmark meant we were fighting to the end and, from what I have seen of Nigel, he deserves a shot at helping us qualify for a major championship.

"The players are focused on their clubs, and we have no influence on the negotiations, but our only concern is to see the right man appointed so we can keep improving - particularly away from home.

"These things get sorted out sooner or later and there was no rush to sort out the manager situation as our next game is not until February.

"But I was asked after the Spain game what my thoughts were about Nigel and I still feel the same - I don't see any reason why Nigel shouldn't be allowed to carry on in the job."

While Worthington is poised to put pen to paper in a new deal, Hughes's old international boss Lawrie Sanchez is fighting to secure his managerial future.

If the Cottagers lose at home to Wigan tomorrow, the axe could fall on Sanchez, but his captain remains defiant.

"The league table doesn't lie and we know we have to pick up points and quickly, but we are very determined to do just that," he added.

"We will keep our heads down and come through it because we believe in ourselves.

"If we weren't playing well we would have every right to be concerned but with a little luck - which we are due - we can get the win we need.

" Hopefully, things will change for us over the Christmas period as the Wigan game is a big test but we also have a derby match with Chelsea looming on New Year's Day. Everyone knows what we now need to do.

"The pressure Lawrie is under now is something every manager goes through but the bottom line is everyone at Fulham still believes we are good enough to stay in the Premier League."

Belfast Telegraph


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