european qualifying

Worthington ready to extend N.Ireland stint

October 15, 2009

Northern Ireland manager Nigel Worthington's satisfaction with his team's World Cup qualifying campaign may indicate he is keen to extend his stay.

• Czech Republic 0-0 Northern Ireland

Worthington also confirmed after the 0-0 draw against the Czech Republic that he is keen to fix up a friendly international next month.

With his current contract about to expire, Worthington is due to meet officials from the Irish Football Association soon to discuss a possible new deal. Despite a shattering defeat by Slovakia, Northern Ireland are taking small steps in the right direction, a fact Worthington recognises.

He said: "It has been a good campaign for us overall and I think we can take a lot of positives away. We did drop our guard against Slovakia and I have said if you don't treat the game with respect, it can kick you in the teeth, and that is what happened.

"But I asked for a big performance and the players didn't let me down. I knew if they performed, they would get a result and we certainly deserved it. There is no point in looking back and asking, 'What might have been for this campaign?'.

"I only want to look forward. The players have been super and the staff have been first class throughout also. The supporters, home and away, have been amazing as always.''

Worthington was delighted with a virtuoso display by Celtic midfielder Niall McGinn, who was making his first start for the national team. McGinn could have secured a victory, only for Petr Cech to turn his effort around the post late in the first half.

Worthington said: "I thought little Niall McGinn was fantastic. He was a breath of fresh air for us. His running at the Czech defence caused them all sorts of problems. It is terrific to have him on board. I wasn't at all surprised at his impact on the game because I am well aware of what he is capable of. He has been around the squad throughout the campaign.''

The Czechs could not break Northern Ireland down and goalkeeper Maik Taylor showed that despite his lack of first-team action at Birmingham, he remains a key national team player at the age of 38.

Worthington said: "A clean sheet always gives you a chance especially on the road. We have been good at home but those performances must go hand-in-hand with the away games if you want to go places. I was delighted with our passing and all in all it was a super performance and a great result.''