Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland suffer World Cup injury woe

by Steven Beacom

Northern Ireland manager Nigel Worthington has suffererd a World Cup nightmare just days before he starts preparation for a vital qualifying double header against Slovenia and San Marino.

Before the weekend, injury had already ruled out West Brom’s Chris Brunt and yesterday Worthington found out that Motherwell defender Stephen Craigan, with a pelvic problem, Burnley defender Michael Duff (hamstring) and Norwich midfielder Sammy Clingan’s (shoulder) would all be absent.

It is a huge blow to Worthington who is looking to take six points out of six from the matches in Slovenia on Saturday and at home to San Marino on Wednesday week.

Clingan, who has been a regular in the side since making his debut under previous boss Lawrie Sanchez, aggravated his shoulder problem in Norwich City’s 2-1 home defeat by Derby County at the weekend.

The 24 year-old had not played for his club since damaging his shoulder against the Czech Republic last month but after naming him in the starting 11 to face Paul Jewell’s side on Saturday, Canaries boss Glenn Roeder has now decided Clingan is not fit enough to join up with the Northern Ireland squad.

The one-time Wolves trainee, who scored Norwich’s consolation goal from the penalty spot after Derby goalkeeper and former international colleague Roy Carroll was dismissed, apparently fell awkwardly on a number of occasions during the match and needed an injection at half-time in able to complete the 90 minutes.

Clingan would definitely have played in Slovenia as would Stephen Craigan who sustained a pelvic injury playing for Motherwell at the weekend.

With Craigan out, Duff had a chance of being named in Worthington’s line-up, but he too is out.

Not excatly a good weekend for Northern Ireland!

On a more positive note former Linfield striker Peter Thompson seems to at last be getting to grips with the professional game in England after he found the net for the second successive match as Stockport County ran out 3-1 winners over Oldham Athletic.

Meanwhile this afternoon the Irish FA will find out if Northern Ireland’s group opponents Poland will face sanctions from FIFA.

World football’s governing body FIFA issued a warning to the Poles that they would be major trouble unless the government reinstates the football association there today.

Poland are due to play the Czech Republic on Saturday and Slovakia four days later but if FIFA are not satisfied by what is going on in the country, they will forfeit those matches with 3-0 victories being awarded to the opposition.

Worthington has said he would prefer the group to be decided on the field rather than off it.

Belfast Telegraph


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