Baird handed NI honour

Defender to lead side on 50th cap

Baird: NI honour

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Chris Baird has been handed the Northern Ireland captain's armband to mark his 50th cap in the Euro 2012 qualifier against Serbia.

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The versatile 28-year-old Fulham defender has become a mainstay of the side over the past eight years having made his debut against Group C opponents Italy in 2003.

The Irish Football Association confirmed Baird will skipper the side in place of Cottagers team-mate and regular captain Aaron Hughes at Belgrade's Crvena Zvezda Stadium on Friday evening.

"The 50th cap is amazing, I didn't think I would get there but I am proud it has come around," he said.

Privileged

"I'm delighted, I'm honoured. Fifty caps for your country is good going and I'm privileged.

"I've had the captaincy before and lost both games but it is nice to captain the side.

"It's another great honour for me personally and it will be lovely to lead the side in Serbia."

Reflecting on his memories as a Northern Ireland player, Baird added: "All the great results over my time have been highlights, beating England, Spain, I could go on.

"It's been disappointing not to qualify from campaigns, that has been hard to take so it would be nice to qualify this time."

Northern Ireland go into their double-header against Serbia and Slovenia, who come to Windsor Park on Tuesday, fourth in Group C on five points but have a game in hand on their qualification rivals.

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