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This is worthy trip, says Northern Ireland boss Nige

Northern Ireland manager Nigel Worthington has taken a fresh swipe at critics of the end of season tour to the Americas.

Worthington is without 17 regular internationals for the tour which began with a 2-0 defeat to Turkey is scorching conditions in Connecticut.

However, the young and inexperienced side refused to wilt in the searing heat and Worthington is confident his unfamiliar squad will not be found wanting in Chile tomorrow night.

While the elder statesmen enjoy a well deserved rest at the end of demanding campaigns, the former Norwich City supremo says its vital that Northern Ireland’s production line is kept working.

“You’ve got to think outside the box,” he said.

“I know as an ex-player that you get older, things move on, you’ve got to be continually looking for new players to be able to move them up into the senior squad when they’re called upon.

“This type of scenario and game is the ideal opportunity to give them the experience of hotels, travel, international football at a senior level and it gives us as coaches the opportunity to see them.

“They’ve all done well, outstanding to be honest, the attitude has been first class. They’re only on the first rung of the ladder as far as international football goes, there’s a long way to go.

“It’s about just keeping their feet on the ground, keeping focused on their careers and keep working with them.”

Performances, rather than results, were always going to dominate Worthington’s thoughts on this tour.

The players showed plenty of heart, commitment and desire against a strong Turkey side before class eventually told in the second half.

There is no doubt that Chile will be another tough assignment for the players.

“We know that technically they’re going to be very, very good on the ball,” added Worthington. “But as long as we get ourselves organised, and get our players doing what they’re good at, then hopefully, with two different styles it will make for a good game.

“There were positives from the Turkey game. There were phases of the game early on when we had a couple of chances. Turkey had a lot of possession. We had three or four chances. But it’s a game of football, there were chances, some were taken, some were not.”

These matches represent the early stages of Worthington’s preparations for the European Championship qualifying matches.

Worthington is conscious it will be a huge challenge given the difficult Group F that includes Italy, Serbia and Slovenia.

“We know all about them, they’re very good sides, but if we can keep our home form as good as it has been and really seriously try to pick up points away from home then we’ll be on the right track,” he said.

Belfast Telegraph