Wednesday, 26 May 2010

'Worthless' friendly as Nigel stacks his squad with local duds

Northern Ireland play Turkey tonight, in an obscure friendly in Connecticut.  As usual a dedicated band of supporters have followed the team to the US.  Unfortunately players have shown rather less dedication and the squad is almost unrecognisable.

Nigel Worthington claims that the tour, which includes another match in Chile on Sunday night, is worthwhile.  Having cast an eye over the starting eleven, I’m not so sure.

Alongside a few fringe players and youngsters are a cadre of Irish league ’stars’ who will never in a million years grace a competitive international side.  It’s not like we’re even talking potential here.  These are not overachieving sixteen year olds.

Alan Blayney is to keep goal.   The goalie is a seasoned twenty eight year old professional.  He started out at Southampton, where he made a handful of appearances, and his career has been, more or less, on a downward trajectory ever since.

Rory Patterson, twenty five years old, joined Rochdale as an eighteen year old.  He drifted into the non-leagues, before being picked up by Coleraine.  Patterson is a dangerous striker in the Irish league, but the only threat he presents at international level is to Jackie Fullerton, who can’t distinguish him from Kyle Lafferty.

Nigel Worthington has persistently selected this type of player ahead of full time pros, plying their trade in lower leagues on the mainland.  The result is that friendly matches of this type are a waste of time.

It makes a joke of international football to select the likes of Blayney, Jamie Mulgrew or Robert Garrett.

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