Worthington - We need Feeney

Northern Ireland boss pinning hopes on striker return

Feeney: Back in training

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Northern Ireland boss Nigel Worthington hopes striker Warren Feeney will be fit in time to face the Czech Republic on 14th October.

Feeney, 28, is back in training with Cardiff after returning to the club for treatment on a hip injury.

The striker, who figured as a regular for Dundee United while on-loan last term, has yet to play a match this season and is still building up his fitness.

With limited options in attack, though, Worthington is keen on Feeney coming back in time for the World Cup qualifier.

The Belfast-born frontman has been drafted into the provisional squad along with Rangers striker Kyle Lafferty who is still struggling with a knee problem.

Burnley's Martin Paterson (knee) and Sheffield United's Jamie Ward (hamstring) are already sidelined.

Feeney scored twice in successive victories against Poland and Slovenia at the end of last season and Worthington said: "Warren is keen to be involved again.

Return

"He is back in training but not had a game so far, so he is well short of match fitness. Hopefully he will improve his fitness over the next couple of weeks and maybe get in a reserve game.

"We have lost Paterson and Ward while Lafferty is not right yet, so Warren might be involved."

Worthington explained his reasoning behind selecting midfielder Pat McCourt, who has enjoyed a return to form at Celtic.

"Pat has had a very good week and it sends out a message to other players they can get in the group if they are playing well.

"Pat with the ball is a good player but without the ball he needs to improve and work on. I have told him that."

Hope

Northern Ireland need to win in Prague to keep their qualification hopes alive after a disappointing home defeat to Slovakia last time out.

Worthington feels that result was largely down to the fact that the majority of the players are struggling for regular first-team action at club level.

"To play back-to-back games as we did against Poland and Slovakia is never easy," he added.

"With about 15 players in the group not starting at their clubs there is a severe lack of match fitness, which can hinder us. But we have to get on with it as best we can.

"There is a glimmer of hope when we go to the Czech Republic. You know what I am like. I will not give up the fight until it becomes impossible. We did not do ourselves justice against Slovakia and want to finish in style."