Estonia v N Ireland preview
Selection dilemmas for Worthington for must-win qualifier
Last Updated: September 6, 2011 10:31am
Northern Ireland coach Nigel Worthington must select from a depleted squad for his country's must-win Euro 2012 qualifier in Estonia on Tuesday evening.
Worthington saw his side lose 1-0 at home to Serbia on Friday after Steven Davis' mistake allowed Marko Pantelic to score the only goal of the game.
That result left Northern Ireland in fifth spot in Group C, but only two points adrift of second-placed Slovenia in the battle to claim the runners-up position behind runaway leaders Italy.
Both Slovenia and Estonia have played a game more than Northern Ireland, but Worthington's side look likely to require maximum points from their remaining three fixtures in order to have a chance of finishing second.
An upcoming double header with Estonia gives them a sniff, but a final group encounter away to Italy means the odds are not in their favour.
Tuesday's game in Tallinn will be the first competitive meeting between the two nations, but Northern Ireland have won both the previous friendly matches 1-0.
Record international goalscorer David Healy netted the only goal in Tallinn in 2004, while two years later, Ivan Sproule scored the winner in Belfast.
Healy is likely to lead the line for Northern Ireland, with his Rangers team-mate Kyle Lafferty still sidelined by the calf injury which ruled him out of the Serbia defeat.
However, Healy has not scored an international goal for almost three years and has made just one substitute's appearance for Rangers this season.
Worthington's other options in attack are Warren Feeney and Josh McQouid, so Healy's past reputation may get him the nod to start as Northern Ireland seek to improve upon a record of seven goals in seven games in the qualifiers.
Celtic winger Paddy McCourt is also carrying a calf injury, while Worthington is without the Evans brothers after Jonny and Corry both picked up yellow cards against Serbia, meaning they are suspended.
Sammy Clingan is in contention to play after missing the Serbia game through illness, while the likes of Lee Hodson and Ryan McGivern could come into the starting line-up.
Josh Carson and Andrew Little have been drafted into the senior squad from the Under 21s for a game captain Aaron Hughes has described as 'must win'.
Estonia put themselves in the mix to finish second courtesy of a shock success away to Slovenia on Friday, but must win both matches against Northern Ireland to have an outside chance of taking the runners-up spot.
LIVE and exclusive on Sky Sports
European Championship Qualifying
Tue 6th Sep - Group B
Russia0 - 0Rep Ireland
Macedonia1 - 0Andorra
Slovakia0 - 4Armenia
Tue 6th Sep - Group A
Azerbaijan3 - 2Kazakhstan
Austria0 - 0Turkey
Tue 6th Sep - Group E
Finland0 - 2Netherlands
Moldova0 - 2Hungary
San Marino0 - 5Sweden
Tue 6th Sep - Group F
Croatia3 - 1Israel
Malta1 - 1Georgia
Latvia1 - 1Greece
Tue 6th Sep - Group D
Bosnia1 - 0Belarus
Luxembourg2 - 1Albania
Romania0 - 0France
Tue 6th Sep - Group H
Denmark2 - 0Norway
Iceland1 - 0Cyprus
Tue 6th Sep - Group C
Estonia4 - 1N Ireland
Serbia3 - 1Faroe Islands
Italy1 - 0Slovenia
Tue 6th Sep - Group G
Switzerland3 - 1Bulgaria
England1 - 0Wales
Tue 6th Sep - Group I
Scotland1 - 0Lithuania
Spain6 - 0Liechtenstein
European Championship Qualifying Group A
European Championship Qualifying Group B
|2||Republic of Ireland||10||21|
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