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Braniff’s got what it takes: Worthington

Nigel Worthington last night revealed that he told Portadown star Kevin Braniff three years ago that he should be playing full-time football in England.

And the Northern Ireland manager believes that the former Millwall man, who scored in Saturday’s Irish Cup final, could still cut it across the water.

Worthington has included 27-year-old Braniff as one of a handful of Carling Premiership players in the Northern Ireland squad that will face Turkey in the USA on May 26 before travelling to Chile for a game on May 30.

“Kevin Braniff played in the Milk Cup anniversary game against Everton. I spoke to him then and told him to get himself back across the water,” said Worthington.

“I still think that he could do a job at a certain level, but he’s got to get that chance.”

Colin Coates and Robert Garrett, who both made international debuts against Italy last year, return to the squad, alongside Player of the Year Rory Patterson, who made his bow against Albania back in March. Linfield’s Jamie Mulgrew, like Braniff, will win a first cap on this trip.

Of the five other uncapped players, Worthington is keen to see English-born youngsters John Gorman of Wolves and Watford’s Michael Bryan progress to the senior ranks.

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“John Gorman can play on the right or left and he impressed me at the under-19 get-together at Lilleshall,” said Worthington.

“He’s only 17 and his education is important to him, so he’s still at school as well as being involved at Wolves.

“Michael Bryan has had a couple of chances at Watford, he is still only 20 and has a bit of pace about him and the trip will give them experience of international football at a young age which can only benefit them.”

Cliftonville’s George McMullan was to have made the trip, but he has been ruled out through injury.

Alan Mannus was named, but won’t now make the trip as he is needed by Shamrock Rovers. Worthington has yet to decide on a replacement, but Linfield’s Alan Blayney may be in the frame.

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