Worthy urges pair to play on
Nigel Worthington would be shocked if Gareth McAuley and Ivan Sproule called time on their international careers.
By Andrew Scurr
Last Updated: 16/10/07 5:29pm
Northern Ireland manager Nigel Worthington would be shocked if Gareth McAuley and Ivan Sproule called time on their international careers.
Bristol City winger Sproule and Leicester defender McAuley, who are in Worthington's squad for Wednesday's Euro 2008 qualifier in Sweden, are reportedly considering their international futures.
The pair are thought to be frustrated by their lack of playing time at international level, although Worthington says he is unaware of any problems.
"I would be shocked if that was the case," said Worthington.
"To represent your country at any level - be it as a player, coach or manager - is a wonderful thing.
"I always looked forward to representing my country and giving my best.
"What I would say to whoever is to keep an open mind. The years go by very quickly.
"I would rather have a lot of caps on the table as opposed to one or two."
Sproule and McAuley could both start against Sweden at the Rasunda Stadium in place of Keith Gillespie and Michael Duff respectively.
Worthington added: "I know nothing of their so-called frustration.
"They have both been selected for the squad, turned up and they seem very happy in their work.
"The door could be open for those who might have been frustrated."
Northern Ireland still have an outside chance of qualifying for Euro 2008, while a win for Sweden on Wednesday will ensure their place at the finals.
Worthington is confident they can complete a famous double over the Swedes and keep alive their hopes of playing in Austria and Switzerland next summer.
"The door is open for us in the campaign. It depends on how hard we want to push it," he said.
"The attitude and spirit of the players has been top class. I want them to relax, enjoy the game and play it as if it was a training session.
"We have a group of young players blending together, coming together. I want them to play with freedom."