Another Northern Ireland match is looming. Last time the team took an early lead against the Faroe Islands, before falling into the old pattern of slow sideways passing. Luckily the introduction of Niall McGinn, early in the second half, revitalised the line-up and Steven Davis notched up a second from long range, before Pat McCourt decided to take the Islanders apart twice with his mesmerising ball skills.
This time the opposition is a sight stiffer. Mind you, over at The Social Club, Jonathan Wilson notes that the Serb manager, Vladimir Petrovic, has indicated that he would be happy to return from Belfast with a draw.
It is therefore likely that the Serbs, with a number of players missing, will set up defensively against Northern Ireland. Nigel Worthington is also an innately cautious manager and it looks probable that McCourt and Kyle Lafferty, both of whom are reportedly suffering from calf-strains, will be missing, It's therefore shaping up to be a turgid encounter. Think about the Italy game, where both sides were happy to sit in front of each other’s defences.
Theoretically a draw would keep Northern Ireland in the hunt, with all eyes then turning to Tallinn, where we play Estonia on Tuesday. My feeling is that a win is needed, because it is by no means likely that we will take three points in an away game against reasonably credible opposition. Estonia have already beaten Serbia during this campaign.
Without a shadow of doubt, two draws will leave too much to do.
It's not that supporters ought to expect Northern Ireland to qualify, but they do have a right to expect the team and the coach to give it their best go. Unless there is a properly committed performance on Friday night and unless there is a clear will to win, as distinct from a will not to lose, then calls for another manager to be given a chance in the next campaign will grow louder.