Baird stands up for boss

Defender offers his backing to under-fire Worthington

Baird: Believes Worthington has done a good job with Northern Ireland

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Chris Baird has added his voice to those inside the Northern Ireland camp offering their support to under-fire manager Nigel Worthington.

Supporters were quick to vent their anger towards the current national team coach following an error-strewn showing in Estonia last time out.

Pressure has mounted on Worthington's shoulders on the back of that performance, with it unclear what his long-term future will hold.

His current contract is set to expire at the end of the year and it remains to be seen whether he will be awarded an extension.

No decision will be taken before Northern Ireland bring the curtain down on their Euro 2012 qualification campaign with fixtures against Estonia and Italy, but Baird is keen to make it clear that Worthington retains the full backing of his playing squad.

Respect

"A lot of guys have said they back Nigel and I'm one of them," said the Fulham defender.

"He has been fantastic for us. He has been great for our country and great for the players who have worked under him.

"He's always stuck by us and, personally, he backed me and picked me for big games. He has everyone's respect, he's a good coach and I back him."

Baird feels it is wrong to point the finger of blame at Worthington for recent results and believes the supporters realise that individual errors, not tactical ineptitude, were responsible for the disappointing defeat in Estonia.

"The fans know that it was three mistakes for three of the goals against Estonia and that's what really killed us," he said.

"They aren't silly, they know it was one of those nights and I even thought we played well at times. Let's hopes the fans come on Friday and get behind us."

Positive

Worthington accepts that he is not universally popular with the Windsor Park faithful at the moment, but he has vowed to continue giving his all to the role.

"(Criticism) is part and parcel of management," he told Sky Sports News HD.

"We'll give it our best shot and more often than not that has stood us in good stead.

"It's all to play for. Yes, it's uphill, but my belief is that we are positive."