NI boss: Healy is not player he was

IPSWICH Town's loan striker, David Healy, is not the player that he was a few years ago.

Carl Marston

IPSWICH Town's loan striker, David Healy, is not the player that he was a few years ago.

That is the assessment of Northern Ireland manager, Nigel Worthington, who yesterday insisted that Healy has "a long way to go" to reach the level that turned him into their record scorer.

Goal poacher Healy, who signed on loan for Town from Sunderland at the end of the January transfer window, is in the Irish squad to face Albania in a friendly fixture this evening.

But the 30-year-old has been stuck on his record-breaking tally of 35 goals (for Northern Ireland) for longer than he cares to remember, failing to find the target in international matches last year.

He also suffered the disappointment of finding himself named as substitute against Serbia at Windsor Park in November.

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Worthington is not convinced Healy is anywhere near his best yet and the striker could find himself back on the bench against Albania. "I have watched David recently and you can tell he has not played football for a long time on a regular basis," revealed Worthington.

"It shows the effect it has in physical sharpness and the mental sharpness. That's a fact.

"The more minutes David can get with Ipswich, Sunderland, wherever he's at, the better for him and the better for us.

"He's got a long way to go.

"When you have not started for your club side (Sunderland) in the league for near on a year, that is a hell of a long time. When you get five minutes here, 20 minutes there and 60 minutes in a cup game, it is not enough.

"Saturday, Tuesday, Saturday, Tuesday, that's where you get your sharpness.

"We have a number of players in that situation. That is one of the unfortunate things with our squad at the moment," added Worthington.

Healy has started three games for Town, bagging his first goal with the equaliser in last week's 1-1 draw at Scunthorpe United.