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Worthington not fazed by fan ban

Northern Ireland boss Nigel Worthington admits Friday's Euro 2012 qualifier against Serbia behind closed doors will be "unusual" but insists his players must simply get on with things as normal.

Serbia are playing the penalty for the violence that occurred last October, when their qualifier against Italy in Genoa was abandoned after just six minutes as missiles were thrown onto the pitch by the visiting fans.

"It will certainly be unusual, but we will prepare for it as we do for every game," Worthington said. "We will focus on the performance and on trying to get a good result. The situation is there and you have to deal with it."

Worthington will be without Rangers midfielder Steven Davis for the tie, who suffered a knee injury after his man-of-the-match performance in beating Celtic in the CIS Cup final, but otherwise has a fully fit squad from which to pick.

"I'm very pleased with the squad, it's a nice blend of youth and experience and there is plenty of energy there," he said.

"Overall the players have been fantastic for qualifying games. For the friendly games I have given some leeway to rest players and said, 'No bother if you have a knock'.

"But these are two big qualifiers and I know for a fact the players want to be there."

Northern Ireland have had a mixed start in the qualifying campaign, beating Slovenia and drawing with Italy before a disappointing draw with the Faroe Islands.

The next two games, starting on Friday and then at home to Slovenia four days later, will be crucial to their prospects.


From Belfast Telegraph