Belfast Telegraph

McCann determined to play his part in Euro 2012 campaign

By Graham Luney

When the Northern Ireland team to face Serbia in Belgrade was announced, Grant McCann and Stephen Craigan felt the pain.

The experienced duo were no longer wanted — they may as well have been part of the small contingent of supporters who were allowed into the otherwise empty stadium.

Teenager Johnny Gorman, who hasn’t even made a senior appearance for Wolves yet, was given the nod to start ahead of the Peterborough United midfielder.

And boss Nigel Worthington broke up the tried and trusted Aaron Hughes-Craigan partnership to give Jonny Evans a centre-back role.

But Hughes’ shoulder injury opened the door for Craigan again against Slovenia and McCann featured at Windsor until the 71st minute, making way for Josh McQuoid.

The 30-year-old Belfast man was hurt by Worthington’s decision to bring the axe down on him and he knew he had to respond in the correct manner.

“No-one likes to be left out of the team and I am no different to Stephen (Craigan) or anyone else,” said McCann.

“I was pleased to come back in and now hopefully I can keep my place in the side.

“Stevie’s done well for us over the years and he’s been as solid as always for us.”

McCann and his team-mates fired a blank against a Slovenia side that has lost some its attacking menace but Northern Ireland are not out of contention for a play-off spot yet.

“We are a little bit disappointed in the changing room that we didn’t win the match but that’s football and we had a few chances that just didn’t go in,” added McCann.

“I thought defensively we were outstanding again and I never felt we would concede.

“They had a few shots which Lee Camp dealt with but we were strong and kept them out most of the time.

“I don’t think Slovenia like coming here. We beat them here and we beat them at their place.

“We are disappointed we didn’t beat them again but we are still sitting well in the group and we need to take full advantage of the draw between Estonia and Serbia.

“Slovenia played in the World Cup and were close to making it to the last 16 so you have to respect a good team like that.”

Belfast Telegraph

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