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Northern Ireland must find a consistent goal scorer or they will never hit the next level

Gareth McAuley


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David Healy out on his own as Northern Ireland's leading goalscorer

David Healy out on his own as Northern Ireland's leading goalscorer

Darren Kidd_Press Eye

David Healy out on his own as Northern Ireland's leading goalscorer

There is no quick fix to our failure to find a clinical goalscorer.

We just don’t possess the forwards capable of banging in the goals on a regular basis.

And it is keeping us back.

As a defender, I was obviously delighted we didn’t concede a goal during the World Cup qualifying campaign at Windsor Park. Three clean sheets at international level is commendable.

But at the other end of the pitch, we were only able to score one goal at home and that came through an opposition player, so none of our boys found the net at Windsor. That has to be worrying. But what’s new?

Unless a talent falls into Northern Ireland’s lap through eligibility, it’s a case of finding and developing that player or players from the grassroots stage.

Coaches need to be educated, there needs to be a joined up approach and hours must be invested in our youth. Obviously the kids need to have natural ability, so scouting is vital but then it’s about honing and developing that talent.

David Healy used to spend hours upon hours with a family friend practising his finishing. Nothing else. Just working hard on his skills.

We need to invest more hours into coaching our kids.

I think in terms of contact time with coaches, youngsters in England have more than double than in Northern Ireland. It’s so important, being taught technique and putting it into practice over and over again.

They should be focussing on this and more even before they reach Andy Waterworth’s elite academy at 16. We need to invest in coach education and then the time players spend with their coaches.

There is no quick fix, it’s a long term project but it might just pay off in the end.


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