Whiteside shocked by Healy snub

Absence is 'double-whammy' for striker, says Whiteside

Whiteside: returning to Windsor Park

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Norman Whiteside says David Healy will be feeling "hurt and rejected" after being excluded from Northern Ireland's squad to face Morocco.

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"I think this is all about Nigel sticking to his guns. He made the decision in the beginning and he's going to stick it out."

Norman Whiteside

Quotes of the week

Northern Ireland's record goalscorer was surprisingly omitted from the squad for Wednesday night's friendly at Windsor Park with national team boss Nigel Worthington insisting he wanted to look at other options.

And even when 11 of the original squad members withdrew through injury, forcing Worthington to call up nine replacements, Healy was not drafted in.

Healy scored just one goal at club level last season, while on loan at Ipswich, but has struck twice in three games on loan at Doncaster Rovers this term.

And Whiteside, who played for Northern Ireland between 1982 and 1989, says the striker has every right to be hurt by Worthington's snub.

"I would say David Healy will be feeling a bit hurt and rejected at this stage," Whiteside told skysports.com.

"Certainly the manager had his reasons in the beginning and maybe Healy would have been disappointed, but with so many injuries and withdrawals he would have expected to have a recall. It's a double-whammy really, isn't it?

"Alright, Nigel made a decision and I think this is all about Nigel sticking to his guns. He made the decision in the beginning and he's going to stick it out.

"I thought he might have drafted him in, but it's Nigel's decision. Nigel was saying he's got to prove it at club level before he can go back in the line-up again."

Opportunity

The absence of Healy will provide an opportunity for some of Northern Ireland's rising stars to make an impact with the likes of Bournemouth forward Josh McQuoid likely to feature against Morocco.

And Whiteside says it will be positive for the manager to look at some younger talent ahead of the Euro 2012 qualifying double-header against Serbia and Slovenia next March.

Whiteside famously debuted for Northern Ireland at the 1982 World Cup aged 17 years and 41 days - and he insists age is no barrier for the players hoping to force their way into Worthington's plans.

"It gives the manager a chance to see what they're like," Whiteside said.

"Just to put on the green shirt and represent your country is a big thrill and a few of them will be given that chance in this game.

"Just because you're young, that doesn't mean to say you can't cope. Hopefully some of them will take their chance."

Return

Whiteside will be making a rare return to Windsor Park as part of the Sky Sports punditry team on Wednesday night.

And he says he can't wait to once again witness the famous atmosphere he enjoyed during his playing days, before his career was curtailed by injury at the age of 26.

Whiteside enjoyed success at club level with Manchester United and experienced playing at two World Cups, but he describes the Northern Ireland supporters as "second-to-none".

"The crowd are unbelievable," Whiteside added.

"I remember when we played England a few years ago and lost 4-0 at Old Trafford. The Northern Ireland fans took over the whole of the stand facing the Stretford End and sang for 90 minutes like you wouldn't believe.

"The support is second-to-none and they always get behind you. It was always a thrill to go back and play at Windsor Park, representing your country."

Norman Whiteside is a match expert for Sky Sports' live high definition coverage of Northern Ireland v Morrocco, tonight from 7.30pm on Sky Sports HD2. To upgrade to HD call 08442 410241