Belfast Telegraph

I’ll end Northern Ireland goal drought, says Healy

David Healy today outlined his desire to end his goalscoring drought for Northern Ireland against Albania tonight.

After a feast of goals in the 2008 European Championship qualifying campaign, the 30-year-old endured a famine in the last World Cup group.

But the Killyleagh man sees the friendly in Tirana as his chance to make a fresh start.

Despite doubts about the match going ahead due to water on the Qemal Stafa Stadium pitch following a heavy bout of rain, the sun was shining in the Albanian capital this morning with the fixture set to get the all-clear allowing the Ipswich Town forward the opportunity to add to his record haul of 35 goals for Northern Ireland.

“I think everyone knows that I haven’t scored for Northern Ireland for a while,” said Healy.

“No one is more disappointed about that than me but this is a new year, I’m playing more football after moving on loan to Ipswich from Sunderland, and am feeling a lot sharper. If a chance comes my way against Albania I’m confident I’ll take it.”

Healy’s comments will interest manager Nigel Worthington who believes the striker still has a way to go in terms of getting back to how dangerous he was when he scored 13 goals in the last Euro campaign.

Worthington has challenged his players to show a mental toughness tonight, saying he will not accept excuses, such as a poor playing surface, for an under-par performance.

The former Norwich City chief believes Northern Ireland need to learn how to win in places such as Tirana if we are to have any chance of Euro 2012 qualification.

“I am not concerned about the pitch at all,” said Worthington, whose team moved up to 40 in the FIFA world rankings today.

“I will not have it as an excuse for an inept performance or an indifferent performance. It is not the best pitch and, yes, there has been a lot of rain. It is very heavy in the middle. What it is going to show me is the mental strength of some of our players. That is what these trips are all about, dealing with these situations.

“In situations like this, murmurings that players are this, that and the other are just an excuse. They are getting an excuse prepared. If we don't perform, it was the pitch, it was the weather. Sorry I won't accept it.”

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