Euro 2008

Gillespie's place always safe

Worthington never considered leaving Sheff Utd winger out

Gillespie: Wanted by Worthington

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Nigel Worthington says omitting Keith Gillespie from the Northern Ireland squad for next week's Euro 2008 qualifier against Sweden did not cross his mind.

Gillespie clashed with team-mate George McCartney on the plane home after Northern Ireland's 2-1 defeat in Iceland and was subsequently fined by the Irish Football Association.

However, Gillespie and McCartney were both selected in Worthington's 19-man squad for the fixture against Group F leaders Sweden at the Rasunda Stadium next Wednesday.

Asked if he had considered leaving either player out of his squad, Worthington responded: "No, not at all.

"Northern Ireland do not have the biggest numbers to pick and choose from, so when you have George, a current Premier League player, and Keith, who has got a wealth of experience and has played at the top end throughout his career, they are automatically in the squad.

"It never crossed my mind. The situation was dealt with very promptly and firmly and we now look onwards and upwards.

"I have seen it a few times in my career as a player, a coach and a manager. It was not the first and I am sure it won't be the last.

"It was a situation which was blown up out of proportion. It should not have happened, but it has been dealt with."

Gillespie, though, is a doubt to face Sweden because of a hamstring injury, while Manchester United defender Jonny Evans is also struggling with an ankle problem.

Glentoran striker Gary Hamilton and Accrington Stanley defender Sean Webb have been placed on standby by Worthington should they fail to recover before the weekend.

"Jonny Evans and Keith Gillespie are both rated at 50-50 at this moment in time," Worthington said.

"Come Friday, we will make some decisions on those two players. Between the clubs, ourselves and the players, we will make decisions that are right for all parties.

"Should they not be right, that would then give us time to bring in the other players we have on standby."