Slovenia v N Ireland preview
Youngsters set for run-out as veteran Craigan reaches 50 caps
Last Updated: September 3, 2010 12:10pm
Worthington: Looking for strong start
Northern Ireland will hope to set the tone for their Euro 2012 qualifying campaign with a win against Slovenia on Friday.
Nigel Worthington's side are likely to have a sense of deja vu when they travel to the Petrol Arena after competing against the hosts in their 2010 World Cup qualifying group.
Slovenia fared better in that campaign, reaching this summer's finals in South Africa but ultimately crashing out in the group stage to England.
Northern Ireland, meanwhile, will be desperate to improve on their recent run of form after failing to win any of their last 10 games, with their most recent disappointment coming in a 2-0 friendly defeat to Montenegro last month.
Worthington insists a strong start against their opening Group C opponents is crucial if his side want to push on in their qualifying campaign.
"Like everyone else you want a good start," said Worthington.
"It doesn't always happen but we need to go and give it our best shot and perform how we can do.
"We know the importance of a good start as you are not then playing catch-up, which is always very important."
Despite meeting Slovenia twice in World Cup qualifying action, with each team securing a win apiece, Worthington insists there will be no complacency from his men going into the clash.
"Whether you have played them or not you still have to be prepared for them," he added. "We know each other's game, each other's players."
Northern Ireland team news
Blackpool defender Craig Cathcart could be in line to win his first cap after being named in Worthington's squad.
The manager has also called up Corry Evans and Johnny Gorman after both youngsters impressed in recent friendlies.
Sunderland left-back George McCartney and Celtic winger Niall McGinn are both sidelined for the clash due to injury.
Veteran defender Stephen Craigan will celebrate his 50th cap in style as he captains the side for the clash.
Slovenia team news
Fitness is not a major issue for coach Matjaz Kez ahead of the encounter, with defender Marko Suler his only injury doubt.
Recent Hull City signing and Slovenia captain Robert Koren has been named in the line-up and is expected to start in midfield.
Centre-back Dejan Kehlar has also earned a call-up and is likely to win his second cap for the national side.
European Championship Qualifying
Fri 3rd Sep - Group B
Armenia0 - 1Rep Ireland
Andorra0 - 2Russia
Slovakia1 - 0Macedonia
Fri 3rd Sep - Group A
Kazakhstan0 - 3Turkey
Belgium0 - 1Germany
Fri 3rd Sep - Group E
Moldova2 - 0Finland
Sweden2 - 0Hungary
San Marino0 - 5Netherlands
Fri 3rd Sep - Group C
Faroe Islands0 - 3Serbia
Estonia1 - 2Italy
Slovenia0 - 1N Ireland
Fri 3rd Sep - Group G
Montenegro1 - 0Wales
England4 - 0Bulgaria
Fri 3rd Sep - Group F
Latvia0 - 3Croatia
Greece1 - 1Georgia
Fri 3rd Sep - Group D
Romania1 - 1Albania
Luxembourg0 - 3Bosnia
France0 - 1Belarus
Fri 3rd Sep - Group I
Lithuania0 - 0Scotland
Liechtenstein0 - 4Spain
Fri 3rd Sep - Group H
Iceland1 - 2Norway
Portugal4 - 4Cyprus
European Championship Qualifying Group A
European Championship Qualifying Group B
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European Championship Qualifying Group C
European Championship Qualifying Group D
European Championship Qualifying Group E
European Championship Qualifying Group F
European Championship Qualifying Group G
European Championship Qualifying Group H
European Championship Qualifying Group I