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Selection posers for NI boss Worthington

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Joel Taggart | 17:05 UK time, Thursday, 13 August 2009

So what did we learn from the friendly international against Israel that we did not know already? Well probably not a lot.

Grant McCann showed again why he is worthy of a place in the starting 11, and everybody is well aware how a lack of games at club level seems to be hindering David Healy in his quest to get back among the goals at international level.

Northern Ireland striker David Healy has not got a smile on his face these days

That is just one goal now in the last 11 internationals and I am starting to really feel for David, he appears to have lost the joy of playing football.

No longer is the smile on his face or the spring in his step.

However as Nigel Worthington pointed out after the game, he is the only proven goalscorer at this level in the squad and it would be a massive gamble to leave him out for the game in Poland.

There are probably two questions that still remain unanswered.

1. Where along the back four does a returning fit Jonny Evans slot in?

2. What is the right blend across our midfield, and with five players (Johnson, McCann, Clingan, Brunt and Davis) all hoping to start, who will be the unlucky one to miss out?

I am undecided on the issue of Evans. My natural instinct is that his best position is in the middle of the back four and if he is fit then that is where he should play.

However, I would be reluctant to break up the pairing of Hughes and Craigan. Northern Ireland have lost just two of the 17 international games when they have started at the heart of the defence together.

So does Evans then play in one of the full back positions? He started his international career at left-back, and I watched him play at right-back during the Carling Cup final last season for Manchester United.

Hughes at right-back of course is another option, and we should not forget how well Gareth McAuley has performed in that position in recent qualifiers.

Craigan is probably guaranteed a place, Worthington well aware of what happened when he left the Motherwell defender out of the qualifiers in Latvia and Iceland in the last campaign.

As for the midfield, well this is surely the area where the game in Poland will be won or lost.

Steve Davis started the friendly against Israel on the bench but must be in the starting line-up for the forthcoming qualifiers, his ball retention will be so important in Chorzow.

McCann has surely secured his spot with another fine performance and a good goal, and Johnson seems to be a certainty.

So is it Clingan or Brunt, and who plays in the wide areas? Johnson, Davis and Brunt are all capable of playing on the right side, Brunt, McCann and Davis comfortable on the left. Striking the right balance will probably be the key.


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