Worthington calls up U21 duo

Northern Ireland manager Nigel Worthington has called up Andrew Little and Josh Carson from the Under-21s after admitting injuries and suspensions had left his squad reduced to “the very bare bones”.

Northern Ireland manager Nigel Worthington has called up Andrew Little and Josh Carson from the Under-21s after admitting injuries and suspensions had left his squad reduced to “the very bare bones”.

Ipswich midfielder Carson and utility man Little, on loan at Port Vale from Rangers, will bolster the squad for their Euro 2012 qualifying trip to face Estonia on Tuesday after four first-teamers were ruled out.

Kyle Lafferty and Paddy McCourt both lost battles against calf problems to miss last night’s 1-0 home defeat against Serbia and will not travel to Tallinn, while the Evans brothers, Jonny and Corry, are both suspended after picking up yellow cards in that match.

With midfielder Sammy Clingan also missing the match with illness, Worthington added the Under-21 pair to his party after they returned from their own 1-0 reverse against Serbia in Belgrade.

“We’re down to the very bare bones,” admitted Worthington.

“Lafferty and McCourt won’t make it and we’ve lost Jonny and Corry to second yellows.

“We’ll have to see where we are with Sammy and we’ll go back and assess everything in the cold light of day.

“Sammy was sick through the night and he was very weak so he never had a chance of playing.

“We’ll see him in the morning and if needs be the doctor will see him again. Hopefully it’s a 24-hour virus and he’s back in the group tomorrow.”

Worthington saw his side slip to fifth in Group C after Steven Davis gifted Serbia striker Marko Pantelic the only goal of the game with a woefully misplaced backpass.

Estonia’s surprise away win at Slovenia saw them overtake Northern Ireland too, leaving Worthington’s men distant outsiders in the battle for second place.

Despite the odds being stacked against his side, the former Norwich manager refuses to give up the fight just yet.

“Of course it’s difficult, but when you’re in football you have to be positive,” he said.

“If you’re not there’s no point carrying on.

“We have three games to go, we have to get the players back up and ready to run. We’ll have a real good go on Tuesday.”

Davis, for one, is eager to get back on to the pitch after his error proved so costly to his side’s hopes.

He accepts the team will be far from full strength against Estonia but insists all is not lost.

“I think the best thing is that we’ve got another game coming up and if you have a bad day at the office then you have to get back into it,” said the Rangers midfielder.

“It’s obvious that we felt the loss of Kyle and Paddy (against Serbia) and we’ll also now miss Jonny and Corry through suspension.

“But Nigel has told us to keep our heads up, move on from this and hopefully still be in with a shout.”

Lee Camp, who made a series of important saves and walked away with the man-of-the-match award, also expects a big reaction from Northern Ireland.

“There’s still hope at the end of the tunnel, so we’ll be looking to put things right,” he said.

“We will be okay, there are big characters in the dressing room and we’ve all been here before. It’s not over yet and there’s still everything to play for.”

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